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NSW authorities to focus on level crossing safety

Article PhotoThere are 1,400 level crossings dotted around NSW, with very few not seeing a collision or near-miss in recent years.

This has lead Transport for NSW and the NSW police to launch another crackdown on level crossing safety. Over the coming weeks, they will target risky, illegal and dangerous level crossing behaviour around the state's Central West.

NSW Police Force Western Region Traffic Tactician Inspector Jeff Boon explained that the campaign is about preventing fatalities and accidents.

"The dangers posed by failing to stop at a level crossing or queuing across a railway line are obvious, yet many motorists take the risk," he said.

"Between 2001/02 and 2013/14, there were 118 collisions involving trains and road vehicles at level crossings throughout the state, which is why we're cracking down on this dangerous behaviour."

NSW police will focus much of the attention on Parkes and Tichbourne where the majority of level crossings don't have barrier arms or warning systems. This means it is up to the driver to stop at the crossing and physically check both sides before progressing. Police will be checking that drivers are obeying the road rules.

These level crossings are very common in rural areas of NSW where traffic is lighter, however, this is where the majority of accidents occur. According to the the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) less than 30 per cent of national level crossings are equipped with active protection systems such as boom gates and/or twin flashing lights.

Residents in these areas will be warned of the crackdown with letterbox drops. There will also be both radio and press advertising in the leadup to the enforcement period. Motorists who are in the area during the crackdown will see electronic billboards warning of the police presence.

Motorists caught disobeying controls at a level crossing are liable for three demerit points as well as a $415 fine.

Improvement needed

Senior Sergeant Mick Timms, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command noted that this is one area where NSW drivers can improve their behaviour.

"Even with the inherent dangers involved, we still see a disappointing number of people ignoring safety warnings and advice at level railway crossings," he said in an October 21 media release.

"Road users need to be reminded to take extreme care at level crossings - because a single moment of distraction or recklessness could cost them their life."