Category: Rail Safety
There have been 254 collisions between cars and trains at public road level crossings in New Zealand from 2004 to 1 September 2015. Source: http://www.tracksafe.co.nz/issues/level-crossing-collisions The level crossing is a place or level point where railway, road or path meets or crosses each other. It is also known as a grade crossing, railway crossing, railroad crossing, train crossing, etc. Every human being on earth has only one life to live; no one has more than one life. The way and manner we protect our lives from dangers determine how long we shall to fulfill destiny in life. If one imagines the thousands of people that have lost their lives in different modes of transport, one may wonder if the modes of transport are death traps for man on earth. This explains why safety in transport is very important. Without any element of doubt, modes of transport and the new technologies are meant to make life easy for man and to benefit man in all ramifications but human errors and poor safety attitude of some people are the leading factors of most accidents in any mode of transport. These may also explain why there is high rate of rail accidents in the world. For example, according to Department of Transport and the Federal Railroad Administration, more than 2,500 train accidents occur every year in the US. If all railroad users, train drivers and the entire railway staff consider safety as their first priority, railroad will be safer. For instance, there is speed limit a train driver is expected to obey at a particular route section. Train’s lighting and the good condition of the track must not be in doubt, the train must be equipped with functional horn and train bell, the train driver is expected to honk, at least, 1,000 feet distance from the point of the level crossing and he is also expected to allow the train bell to ring until the last car of the train left the level crossing, train driver’s sensitivity during operation must not be questioned. These, among others, are the obligations every individual concerned must keep to make the railroad safer. Having read the above caption as a reader of this article, probably you are one of those that would have expected the caption to be: “Don’t endanger your life: think twice when you are at the level crossing” not “…when you are approaching the level crossing.” You may further assume it is only necessary to think twice when one is already at the level crossing not when one is still approaching it. If you hold this kind of opinion, it is good. Why? It is because it will help you after reading through this article to understand how dangerous the level crossing accident is and the reason why you need to think twice when approaching it. As an individual, my observation reveals that the frequency of the level crossing accidents these days is becoming more worrisome and the consequences thereafter are even more serious than any other kind of accident in railway transport. For instance, in Europe not less than 400 people and in the United States over 300 people are killed every year in level crossing accidents. Source: Wikipedia. In addition, in 2016, there were 2025 collisions in the US, resulting into 265 fatalities and 798 injuries; also, in 2015, 2075 collisions occurred resulting into 233 fatalities, 1032 people injured, while also, in 2014, there were 2,295 collisions in the US., resulting into 262 fatalities and 873 injuries. Source: Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). However, from the above data, you will notice that over 2,000 collisions occurred each year. Obviously, there is progress in reduction of collision at the level crossing. For example, in 1981 and 1982, there were 9,461 collisions and 7,932 collisions in the US, respectively (FRA). So, when you compare it to the last 3 years, you will see there’s obvious reduction, like I have noted earlier. Yet these figures, as it were, in the last 3 years are still not acceptable. Why? It is because the level crossing collisions are avoidable accidents. Therefore, from zero collision to over 2,000 collisions is still a great figure and it’s not acceptable. It is important to note that the majority of level crossing accidents happens during the day where the level crossings are even equipped with automatic warning devices. One may wonder why the majority of this kind of accident still happens during the day. This, among other reasons, justifies the above caption, “Don’t Endanger Your Life: Think Twice When Approaching the Level Crossing”. This is because the cyclist’s, the pedestrian’s and the driver’s negligence at the level crossing may be a costly mistake that can kill you.
Picture showing a woman at a dangerous location The unparalleled features of the rail transport over other land transports are undeniable. As a result, the rail transport is gaining more patronage day by day. Many people want to travel by rail while many organizations also like to engage the services of the rail transport in moving their products in large quantities to where they are needed. This, they do, to reduce the transport cost for their products. Wherefore, rail transport is playing a key role in moving people and goods in large number. It is important to note that many people gamble with their safety when making use of the rail transport. Passengers’ safety must not be the concern of rail transport management only but individual rail passengers must also have concern for their own safety while using or traveling by the rail transport. Attitude is everything Picture showing a bad and dangerous attitude of some passengers Poor attitude of some passengers to railway safety is highly worrisome. The misbehavior some passengers exhibit while traveling in rail transport show their poor safety culture and that many of them are gambling with their lives. Poor or bad attitude to rail transport safety can be described as the way you think and behave that can endanger your life and the lives of other rail transport users. Poor attitude of many people to transport safety also suggests their lack of safety culture to the transport mode they make use of. Safety culture in transport, as it were, is the way you are expected to think and behave in a particular environment with respect to transport safety. In other words, safety culture in transport is the transport safety features of everyday existence shared by people in a particular place. Anyhow, in a simple language, is a way of life with respect to transport safety. A mature safety culture in railway transport is characterized by the way people notice and understand the importance of safe operation in rail transport and the urgent need to manage or reduce risk to an acceptable level. In a bid to improve the railway safety, the responsibilities of individual passengers who have a potential impact on the safe operation of the railway system must not be compromised. Is this a Sign of Poverty or Shortage of Public Transport? The safety of the railway depends on the behaviors and attitudes of everyone in the system e.g. the staff and the passengers. Having examined the pictures, one would wonder why people in their large number would have to take rail safety for granted; one may still be wondering why many people we see in this picture had to hang on rail cars why many of them sat on top of the train. It is not because of poverty or shortage of public transport that would make people in their large number to take their lives for granted as rightly shown in the pictures. The reasons are simply due to lack of good transport safety culture in the community and poor safety attitude of individual. It is needless to say, as you have also noticed in the pictures used in this article, that lack of safety culture with poor safety attitude can lead to misbehavior of many transport users that will increase the risk of accidents. Often times, rail accidents are caused by people. They are not made and they can be preventable instead of managing them. One way to achieve this is good safety culture with good safety attitude of individual; in fact, it’s a collective responsibility of all rail transport users. To address the misbehavior of people towards safety, hence, good safety culture and individual safety attitude are important directions to make the rail transportation and other modes of transportation safer. Responsibilities for railway staff during operations *The safe movement of rail transport must start from the railway stations. * Rail vehicles’ safety condition must be certified before any operation. *Rail staff must ensure that every passenger behaves in a safe manner while making use of the rail transport. *The staff must take strong safe decision to control all types of safety risk or misbehavior of all passengers during operation. *They must ensure that safety regulations are complied with throughout each operation. 5 ways of building and maintaining transport safety culture Good transport safety culture is not what people can achieve in a moment or in a day, it is a kind of belief people grow up with in a particular environment that can easily be noticed in their behavior. For instance, in one of the television stations, I heard the story of a senior transport safety officers from one of the African countries who traveled to one of the overseas countries. According to him, as he wanted to cross to the other side of the road, he said immediately he stepped on Zebra crossing with just one leg, he saw all the motorists both from left and right on such busy road stopped immediately. So, he said he was afraid thinking that something bad like accident must have happened and so, he ran back from the road to see what actually had happened on the road. He saw the drivers calling him to cross the road; it was then he knew that it was him they actually stopped for. Why did he have to run back to know what was happening? It’s because he lacked road safety culture, even though he’s a senior road safety officer in his country, yet where he’s coming from he has not seen motorists, in one accord, stop at once for just a pedestrian to make use of the road. So when he got to a well cultured environment, it was a big surprise to him. Nevertheless, here are some ways to build and maintain good safety culture: 1. Education: People need to be thought in a community or environment where transport safety culture is lacking. Several efforts must be made to teach people the importance of transport safety in the best language they will understand. 2. Orientation: Periodic orientation must be given to the people on what they have been thought and necessary information about new transport safety they need to know. 3. Watchfulness: Individual transport users must always be careful enough to notice any form of danger in their environment. The misbehavior of individual transport users must be monitored and reported to the authority concerned to correct such individuals. 4. Ability to change: Individual must be ready to adjust to any safety rules or regulations. 5. Fair Justice: A fair culture treats people in a way that is reasonable and proper. A fair culture encourages and rewards individual who would report the misbehavior of some transport users and treats the report with required seriousness and thereafter, metes out just punishments to anyone whose behavior is truly unacceptable. 6. Observations and report: To build a good safety culture, individuals must also be encouraged to report their observations to the right authorities. Often times, these have to do with sensitive reports such as highway robbery, terrorist attack and so on. 7. Study: A study on past safety records and how to improve on them for future purpose is another method to sustain a good transport safety culture. Nonetheless, the rail transport service provider must play a leading role at all times in sustaining rail safety culture through education, public enlightenment among others. More so, railway infrastructure manager and the entire staff managing the infrastructures must also play their own role to sustain rail safety culture by fixing railway infrastructures such as track, station, signaling and electrification in an acceptable manner for safe operation. The engineering department must also play their own role; the department must ensure that every rail vehicle set for operation is in good condition. In conclusion, the railway staff, the management, the individual passengers and potential customers, that is, different organizations engaging the services of railway transport for their products must all rise up to the task to fulfill their individual responsibilities and co-operation to build and sustain rail transport safety culture. Rail transport accident is always painful due to the number of innocent lives and goods that are usually involved, wherefore; cultivating the mind of people towards rail transport safety culture is a great gain.