European Level Crossing Awareness Day

25.06.2009

Stop accidents! Europe for safer level crossings!

Prague, 25/06/2009 - In Europe, at least 600 people fall victim of accidents at level crossings every year. It is proved that 95% of these accidents are caused by road users. Therefore, the rail and road sectors organised together a pan-European Level Crossing Awareness Day to make people understand that these accidents could be avoided if they obey the traffic rules and address misbehaviour at and around level crossings.

The European Level Crossing Awareness Day focuses on educational measures and the promotion of safe behaviour at and around level crossings. It is built on existing national events which will be held jointly at various locations constructed around the common message "Stop accidents! Europe for Safer Level Crossings!" Additionally, several countries outside Europe such as Australia, Canada, India and South-Africa joined this European Level Crossing Awareness Day.

The project involves the road sector, government agencies, railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and police forces from 23 EU-countries, the European and international rail associations (CER, EIM and UIC), the European Level Crossing Forum (ELCF), the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the European Railway Agency (ERA) as well as the European Commission and media.
Also, the Czech Republic, namely Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC), state organization joined this campaign with a public education program directed at the drivers of motor vehicles through driving schools, Vehicle Testing Stations, automobile associations and the register of drivers and vehicles. Ing. Jan Komárek, SŽDC Director General commented on the European project: “Every current railway infrastructure manager can perfectly understand that the best solution for both the railway and the road is the grade-separated crossing. At the same time, however, it is absolutely clear that this solution is nowhere in Europe or outside of it feasible due to high financial demands. A tragical review of accidents at the level crossings by European standards does oblige to broad cooperation of the European and national railway and the road organizations within public education service focused on increasing the road users´ awareness of the consequences of risky and irresponsible behaviour at the level crossings.”

In the Czech Republic there are 8 296 level crossings with different types of securing system. It is, however, necessary to underline and this is also the goal of the project developed by SŽDC that regardless of the different securing type for a specific crossing (a warning cross, a light or sound signal, or one provided with gates) there are always same traffic rules applied which result from the Act on the operation on communications over land.

As for the SŽDC campaign related to the European event: “Stop accidents! Europe for Safer Level Crossings!”, we deliberately chose simple but realistic contents (a real photo documentation of SŽDC's Fire Department action during accidents at level crossings) and recalled basic rules (the Railway Act and the Act on the operation on communications over land - §28 and §29 on Crossing with communications over land, or the definition of a railway crossing and the behaviour of the road user.

There will be five flyers with a clear message distributed, e. g. DO YOU WANT TO BECOME ANOTHER VICTIM OF YOUR HAZARD, RUSH AND DISTRACTION? YOU DON'T HAVE TO! FOLLOW THE ROAD TRAFFIC REGULATIONS! Four flyers are specifically directed at motorists, the fifth also at pedestrians and other road users and they appeal to risky behaviour when not respecting the basic rules. The target group of this event are especially the drivers of motor vehicles, the current ones as well as the future ones. Therefore the flyers are going to be handed out at the registers of drivers and vehicles, driving schools, Vehicle Testing Stations, automobile associations etc. Simultaneously, on 24th June 2009, SŽDC launches a prevention-dedicated website www.prejezdy.eu in cooperation with BESIP Department of the Ministry of Transport

About the project

The European Level Crossing Awareness Day is a joint commitment following the signature of the European Road Safety Charter engaging both road and rail sectors to strong actions on raising public awareness on the danger of risky behaviour at level crossings. The Vice-President and Transport Commissioner of the European Commission, Antonio Tajani said: “Road safety is a priority issue for the European Commission. It is my personal conviction that such initiatives should be encouraged. I am sure that activities like the European level crossing awareness day will help to improve safety at the level crossings.”

Level crossing accidents account for 2% of road deaths but for a third of all rail accidents in Europe. The Charter is an initiative of the European Union, with the objective of developing specific actions, assessing results and reducing the number of traffic accidents and fatalities through the common coordination of methods in traffic safety in Europe, while adding a European dimension to individual or collective initiatives.

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