Motorists, pedestrians must observe railway crossings

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pretoria - Transnet Freight Rail has embarked on a national campaign to sensitise motorists and pedestrians on the dangers of not observing safety precautions when crossing railway lines.

This is in a bid to deal with railway level crossing accidents, which resulted in 22 fatalities last year. Last year there were 122 such accidents.

Almost all level crossing accidents are a result of the failure of motorists to stop at the clearly demarcated stop signs at level crossings. Trains take a long time to stop, even when the driver applies brakes, a loaded train can take more than a kilometre to stop.

The campaign, which kicks off on Wednesday, urges motorists and pedestrians to obey the traffic laws governing rail level crossings at all times.

"People involved in railway level crossing incidents are usually complacent when approaching crossings," said Transnet spokesperson, Sandile Simelane.

"Trains can't swerve to avoid you and given the weight of a train, the chances of you surviving a crash are poor as air bags will not be able to save you when you are involved in a collision with a train."

The law requires motorists to bring the motor vehicle to a complete standstill at a level crossing.

The Easter period has been targeted as an opportune time for such a campaign due to the increase of vehicles on public roads.

"The campaign which is held at the beginning and throughout the Easter period is a joint initiative by Transnet Freight Rail, the South African Council of Churches and Road Traffic Management Corporation," said Mr Simelane.

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