Man vs. Train: an Uneven Match with a Predictable Outcome!

03.06.2014

Prague, June 3, 2014 – The Railway Infrastructure Administration (RIA) regularly joins the global ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) campaign. This year’s campaign   is dedicated to collisions with people on the tracks.

The ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) was born in 2009 as an outcome of an initiative of the International Union of Railways, initially as a European event. A year later, it expanded worldwide. Its objective is to increase public awareness of railway crossings and to appeal for observance of rules and safe conduct principles in order to minimize accidents with fatal consequences. The Railway Infrastructure Administration (RIA) has been involved since the very beginning. More than 45 railway companies worldwide now participate in the campaign.

“The highest safety risks which railway companies have to deal with every day are collisions of vehicles or pedestrians with trains. In spite of considerable efforts of railway companies to reduce the risk, there are still too many people dying every day,” said Director-General of UIC Jean-Pierre Loubinoux.

“The Railway Infrastructure Administration realizes that the number of the accidents is still unnecessarily high. However, an overwhelming majority of them are, unfortunately, a blatant breach of law by drivers of road vehicles or pedestrians. This year’s ILCAD campaign has chosen movement of people on the track as its key topic,” said RIA’s General Manager Pavel Surý. As a matter of fact, a collision with a train is almost invariably fatal. “Unfortunately, the outcome of the duel between the fast-moving behemoth weighing hundreds of tons and the man is not that difficult to predict,” he added.

In the first five months of 2014, 109 people died and 70 were injured under wheels of trains. The toll in 2013 was 223 dead and 148 injured. Unfortunately, these sad numbers have remained practically unchanged for quite a long time. More than 200 people die under wheels of trains every year. Long-term statistical data also shows that suicides account for more than 80% of the victims. On the other hand, a positive signal for RIA is the fact that the number of pedestrians killed directly on railway crossing has dropped to a third since 2003!

It is not just suicides who get killed on the track. More than 85% of all collisions with pedestrians occur elsewhere than on a railway crossing. Apart from people taking unnecessary risks when looking for a shortcut, there are other, seemingly trite factors. For example, an audio headset or a mobile phone may pose a great risk which both UIC and RIA point out at.

As a matter of fact, the pedestrian with a headset on cannot hear the impending danger. All it takes in such a situation is to turn one’s head in the wrong direction or get too close to the track. You cannot hear an approaching train with music blasting into your ears or over the telephone conversation.

“There is no time to react and avert the collision. The shortcut across the track then becomes the longest trip …,”  General Manager Pavel Surý adds.

While a car driving at 100 km/h needs 50 to 80 meters to stop, a train needs 1,200 to 1,500 m to do the same. Thus, if someone loses his or her footing when trying to cross a track in front of a moving train, the engineer does not stand any chance at all to stop and avert the collision.

Killed and injured people, 2003 – May 2014

 

Total number of people on the track

Of whom on crossings

Year

Total injured

Total killed

Killed suicides

Killed non-suicides

Total killed

Suicides

2003

280

226

146

80

67

                           *

2004

281

235

159

76

56

                          *       

2005

248

250

180

70

52

                          *

2006

270

251

209

42

45

20

2007

267

202

173

29

31

7

2008

341

224

178

46

44

19

2009

264

211

185

26

35

14

2010

262

241

194

47

49

15

2011

265

260

231

29

34

17

2012

208

224

198

26

26

8

2013

148

223

199

24

23

10

2014

70

109

98

11

16

7

Total

2904

2656

2150

506

478

117

*Until 2005, there was no distinction made between suicides and other people.

However, let us go back to the decline of victims killed directly on railway crossings. There are more than 8,000 crossings in the Czech Republic. While 67 people died on them in 2003, they claimed just a third of that number in 2013. Apart from effective preventive efforts, the decline is also attributable to step-by-step improvements of the railway crossings. RAI invests hundreds of millions of CZK into them every year. RAI has also been partly successful in its efforts to cancel unused crossings on non-public access, field or forest roads; new and much safer grade-separated crossings are built as part of large development projects on main railway lines. However, the costs of a safe overpass or underpass often amount to as much as CZK 100 million.

This being said, prevention still remains the principal solution. RIA´s activities in the framework of the    ILCAD international campaign also include a special website focusing on railway crossings. You can find a direct link to it on our home website, www.szdc.cz. In addition to all available information on the subject, you can also download a special educational video there.

Additional practical information and educational materials concentrating on the prevention and elimination of hazardous and irresponsible behaviour on railway crossings can be found at www.levelcrossing.net and www.ilcad.org.


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