Complacency at Level Crossings

 

Pinned post created by dthead

Posted last year

  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
ON Nine News last night there was a witness to the crash who said that she made eye contact with the deceased driver only moments before the collision and she said that he didn't appear to look prior to going over the line. She's also given that evidence in a statement to the Police.

I read some years ago that most fatalities at railway crossings were people who lived within 5km so you have to assume that familiarity is the key problem.

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  justapassenger Minister for Railways

I read some years ago that most fatalities at railway crossings were people who lived within 5km so you have to assume that familiarity is the key problem.
don_dunstan
That assumption seems like a bit of a leap to me.

If that is a fact (I'd like to see the data) then surely it would just be confirming that people who live close to level crossings will drive across them far more often than people who do not.

Australian drivers are notorious for 'looking but not seeing' or 'looking straight through' incidents. We need a revolution in the training/assessment of learner drivers and the introduction of ongoing driver training/assessment to keep experienced drivers fresh.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
I read some years ago that most fatalities at railway crossings were people who lived within 5km so you have to assume that familiarity is the key problem.
That assumption seems like a bit of a leap to me.

If that is a fact (I'd like to see the data) then surely it would just be confirming that people who live close to level crossings will drive across them far more often than people who do not.

Australian drivers are notorious for 'looking but not seeing' or 'looking straight through' incidents. We need a revolution in the training/assessment of learner drivers and the introduction of ongoing driver training/assessment to keep experienced drivers fresh.
justapassenger
I have no idea where I read that so don't ask me for a link - but it makes total sense because the people who use the crossings the most are locals who live in close proximity and therefore are the most likely to be killed.

I'm just speculating whether it's familiarity that breeds contempt or is it just the fact that local people are the most frequent users... either way I guess the only solution is to physically remove all unprotected (and maybe even protected) crossings because removing motorists from the right-of-way is the only way to be sure.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
People can die in road accidents anywhere, that most people are ‘allegedly’ (like JAP, I have seen no real data) did close to home is most likely a function of that being where they spend most of their time driving.

I drive to and from my house everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, I spend a lot of time driving those roads. It is exceptionally rare that I drive to Perth (I have done it once), so my chances of dying in a road crash between Ceduna and Coolgardie (or Kalgoorlie which I also visited) are quite remote.

I’d like to see that data broken down to not chance based on distance, but chance normalised against time spent in the area - that I think would see the risk normalised across all roads. The cynic in me says we won’t ever be given an estimate based on that, because it would remove the ‘familiarity’ and hence part of the  ‘distraction’ reasoning and revenue seekers won’t want that. It would mean they’d have to go looking at real and causes that would cost money, not make money.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

People can die in road accidents anywhere, that most people are ‘allegedly’ (like JAP, I have seen no real data) did close to home is most likely a function of that being where they spend most of their time driving.
Aaron
It's certainly quite a plausible theory, but until I see data I'll also consider it plausible that it's one of those 'facts' that 'everyone knows.'

And that's before you get to explaining why it is the case. That's why investigating this incident would be worthwhile, because there was a third party witness (I don't expect this is always the case) as well as the train crew and the loco's forward facing camera.

Even with trends that are supported by data, if they are not revisited at appropriate intervals then you'll end up with badly targeted road safety strategies that are focused on addressing the problems of 10/15/20/etc years ago instead of the highest current priorities.

I drive to and from my house everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, I spend a lot of time driving those roads. It is exceptionally rare that I drive to Perth (I have done it once), so my chances of dying in a road crash between Ceduna and Coolgardie (or Kalgoorlie which I also visited) are quite remote.

I’d like to see that data broken down to not chance based on distance, but chance normalised against time spent in the area - that I think would see the risk normalised across all roads.
Aaron
Correct, you would need to show that 'local' collisions are disproportionately high and I don't think there would be enough data points to make that conclusion with any level of confidence.

The most recent level crossing stats I looked at (from the ONRSR) had level crossing collisions happening at a rate of 1.01 collisions per 1000 level crossings in the six month period of July-December 2018. I believe the scientific term for such a low incidence rate is bugger all.

The cynic in me says we won’t ever be given an estimate based on that, because it would remove the ‘familiarity’ and hence part of the  ‘distraction’ reasoning and revenue seekers won’t want that. It would mean they’d have to go looking at real and causes that would cost money, not make money.
Aaron
100%.

A make-work 'upgrade' of a level crossing would allow for a politician to rub the Civil Contractors Federation's tummy and get photographed 'opening' the upgraded crossing.

Making people pass a demanding on-road test to renew their driver's licence would surely lose votes for whichever government had the balls to do it. Just like the outsourcing of AdMet rail operations, the opposition of the day would be unable to resist the opportunity to score a few cheap points even if they agreed with the policy.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
This ofshoot of the fatal thread is also subject tothe same rules:

Fatality Policy

When a rail accident with a fatality is reported, Railpage staff will start a new sticky thread inside the relevant forum. If a thread longer than 25 informative posts without needing excessive moderation exists on the incident, it will be cleaned up as per the rules of this policy and adopted as the official discussion thread on the incident. There will only be one thread per incident. By posting in the thread, users will automatically agree to the rules of the Fatality Policy, which will be inserted in the first post of the thread. Only informative discussion related to the incident will be allowed. The following types of posts will be deleted:

  • Condolences posts
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    It is slightly different to  reporting on the incident so it is seperate. We'll keep the original thread  for that incident solely.

      don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

    Location: Adelaide proud
    People can die in road accidents anywhere, that most people are ‘allegedly’ (like JAP, I have seen no real data) did close to home is most likely a function of that being where they spend most of their time driving.
    Aaron
    That was confirmed by what I had read some years ago, that locals are most at risk of dying at unprotected crossings probably because they're the ones who use them the most.

    As you say, in order to establish what kind of a factor being familiar with the crossing was in the chances of a fatality you would have to statistically control for how far away users live and how frequently they use said crossing.
      don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

    Location: Adelaide proud
    Correct, you would need to show that 'local' collisions are disproportionately high and I don't think there would be enough data points to make that conclusion with any level of confidence.

    The most recent level crossing stats I looked at (from the ONRSR) had level crossing collisions happening at a rate of 1.01 collisions per 1000 level crossings in the six month period of July-December 2018. I believe the scientific term for such a low incidence rate is bugger all.
    justapassenger
    But even so the public is still horrified at the apparently dangerous nature of unprotected crossings every time an incident like this happens - despite the incidence being statistically very low.

    In order to meet the new nanny-state expectations we have in the 21st century you would need to remove every single unprotected crossing along a railway line to ensure that a collision doesn't happen; I'm not sure if there's any other way around that problem of human behaviour.
      Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

    Location: Richmond Vic
    Human behaviour?  I defy anyone to explain it.
    A classic example years ago was told to me by an Echuca loco crew. They brought a rice train out of Deniliquin, and cleaned up a local in his Commodore on a crossing 5 km out of town. The driver was lucky and got out alive. One week later, they took out that bloke's brother on the same crossing and he didn't survive.
    Two locals, living where rice trains were a fact of life, and this happens? Beats me.
      BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

    Location: Maldon Junction
    I read some years ago that most fatalities at railway crossings were people who lived within 5km so you have to assume that familiarity is the key problem.
    That assumption seems like a bit of a leap to me.

    If that is a fact (I'd like to see the data) then surely it would just be confirming that people who live close to level crossings will drive across them far more often than people who do not.

    Australian drivers are notorious for 'looking but not seeing' or 'looking straight through' incidents. We need a revolution in the training/assessment of learner drivers and the introduction of ongoing driver training/assessment to keep experienced drivers fresh.
    justapassenger
    I have been hearing this for years, that a high proportion of accidents happen close to home. I cannot find actual stats but if you google 'statistics car accidents close to home' you will see plenty of info about it.

    One of the reasons often sighted is "letting your guard down" and this would seem to be a likely scenario in things like LX collisions on passive crossings leading to rural properties.
      Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

    Location: University of Adelaide SA
    We have already explained why what you have read about ‘letting your guard down’ is likely rubbish.

    BTW David, why was my post deleted? It was absolutely within the rules.
      BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

    Location: Maldon Junction
    We have already explained why what you have read about ‘letting your guard down’ is likely rubbish.

    BTW David, why was my post deleted? It was absolutely within the rules.
    Aaron
    Sorry, I didn't realise that "we" (whoever "we" are) are the undisputable experts on everything. Why don't you let us all know who this "we" is so that the rest of us won't need to bother posting anything on RP anymore lest we dare repeat something that the Royal Wee has already told us.
      Captainchoochoo61 Locomotive Fireman

    When I was a wee lad of 16 I had my first accident on the road, within a kilometre of home. It was at the time of changes from give way to the right to priority roads. I knew the corner and complacency was an issue, (plus the smell of mum's lamb roast) but also the fact I still drive past that corner several times a week, so my chances of just being unlucky are reducing too.

    At another time I spoke with two well respected SAR drivers about crossing fatalities and they had experienced a number each. There were some in the "I wish I could have sped up cause they were racing me" , And others where there were distractions. But the ones that caused the most distress were where they made eye contact with a passenger in the car, who could do nothing.  And some where the person made eye contact and saw the train too late to do anything.  The last two had significant impacts on the drivers.

    Another factor nowadays is sound systems in cars, and the soundproofing of cars. I was in an appointment yesterday and a car with a very loud boombox went past us four times. It is probable that they would not hear a train horn over the huge noise, so they rely on visual sighting. this increases the chance of a fatality. My first car had a tinny little radio , and a steam whistle or diesel horn was easy to hear through the open window. I had time to stop at crossings and look, as it was a two hour trip to Victor, nowadays everyone complains if it takes a whole hour. Nowadays We all need to be there ten minutes ago. This is how people are conditioned nowadays.

    So everything comes down to a combination of factors, and the only way to really make everyone safe on the roads is reduce it back to the old days and have a flag waving person walking ahead of every car. Just look next time you are on a freeway , and see how many people are tailgaiting!! they do not save any time at all as the first red light they encounter will negate the two second saving by tailgating, cause it will not get green any faster.

    It is a sad fact of life that train crews are subjected to this , and always have been, as have the emergency services involved, and the families. But would slowing trains to 50kmh on the pirie line avoid the problem until gates could be installed on every occupation crossing and highway crossing on the line. Would the economic benefit be better ? Life is a compromise, and all the studies in the world will not save one life until every crossing has an active crossing system, or an over ride to sound systems, or flashing dash lights, or 90 degree angles on all crossings with no trees in the appropriate distance.
    I live 500m from two level crossings, depending on winds, climatic and time conditions the new bells can penetrate over my clock radio at times. But a boombox equipped  modern car going over the crossing with windows closed, air conditioning on full, sound reduction equipped arguing with a shrieking significant other may not hear the bells and will rely on flashing lights.

    Everything is a compromise, just like on the freeway yesterday, for safety the concrete barriers at the location are fixed to avoid danger in event of a vehicle being out of control but when the road was closed by the accident it was not simple to start a contra flow to allow some traffic to move through. so many people were delayed.  once again a compromise. throwing millions at it for a once in a blue moon event is not a realistic expenditure, just like a sad and occasional accident on the train line.
      michaelgm Chief Commissioner

    We have already explained why what you have read about ‘letting your guard down’ is likely rubbish.

    BTW David, why was my post deleted? It was absolutely within the rules.
    Sorry, I didn't realise that "we" (whoever "we" are) are the undisputable experts on everything. Why don't you let us all know who this "we" is so that the rest of us won't need to bother posting anything on RP anymore lest we dare repeat something that the Royal Wee has already told us.
    BrentonGolding
    FIGJAM, is readily apparent.
      BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

    Location: Maldon Junction
    FIGJAM, is readily apparent.
    michaelgm
      Lockspike Chief Commissioner

    We have already explained why what you have read about ‘letting your guard down’ is likely rubbish.
    Aaron
    For statisticians things are either on or off, black or white; there is no grey. Such absolutes are rarely helpful.

    Locals know a level crossing, they also know it is rare to encounter a train there. On the other hand, the local knows that they frequently have to give way to other road traffic when crossing/turning on to a highway.

    When you are lulled by routine to expect a particular condition, that is what you will see, unless something breaks the reverie. It is a well known phenomenon in incident investigation.
      justapassenger Minister for Railways

    For statisticians things are either on or off, black or white; there is no grey. Such absolutes are rarely helpful.
    Lockspike
    Rubbish. A proper statistician will always state the confidence level when they give a finding, even if the confidence level is so close to 1.00 that it may as well be an absolute truth.

    Your statement would be closer to being correct if you edited it to refer to rail enthusiasts.

    Locals know a level crossing, they also know it is rare to encounter a train there. On the other hand, the local knows that they frequently have to give way to other road traffic when crossing/turning on to a highway.
    Lockspike
    Plausible theory.

    Is it supported by data?

    When you are lulled by routine to expect a particular condition, that is what you will see, unless something breaks the reverie. It is a well known phenomenon in incident investigation.
    Lockspike
    Just because it is “well known” by “everyone” doesn't mean it is factual.

    Can I see the data is a question that should be encouraged and engaged with. Nobody is helped when it is decided to evade that question and instead make decisions on the basis of outdated data or unsupported assumptions.
      Fatty Deputy Commissioner

    Location: Melbourne
    This happens all the time. People need to look for trains.
      justapassenger Minister for Railways

    This happens all the time. People need to look for trains.
    Fatty
    Note that "all the time" equalled just 30 times in the 12 month period covering 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, across the whole of Australia.

    The campaigns of the last 20 years have brought things to the point where level crossings are among the safest parts of Australia's road system.
      steam4ian Chief Commissioner


    The campaigns of the last 20 years have brought things to the point where level crossings are among the safest parts of Australia's road system.
    justapassenger
    Can you support that with hard data?
      michaelgm Chief Commissioner

    I read some years ago that most fatalities at railway crossings were people who lived within 5km so you have to assume that familiarity is the key problem.
    That assumption seems like a bit of a leap to me.

    If that is a fact (I'd like to see the data) then surely it would just be confirming that people who live close to level crossings will drive across them far more often than people who do not.

    Australian drivers are notorious for 'looking but not seeing' or 'looking straight through' incidents. We need a revolution in the training/assessment of learner drivers and the introduction of ongoing driver training/assessment to keep experienced drivers fresh.
    justapassenger
    Looking but not seeing, looking straight through.

    Notorious, says who?
    Any data, or opinion?
      justapassenger Minister for Railways

    The campaigns of the last 20 years have brought things to the point where level crossings are among the safest parts of Australia's road system.
    justapassenger
    Can you support that with hard data?
    steam4ian
    2018 data:
    Level crossing collisions: 32 (includes fatal and non-fatal, source ONRSR)
    Total road fatalities: 1145 (source BITRE)

    It is my opinion that safety campaigns have led to this, given that level crossing collisions are on a downward trend despite road traffic increasing and there being negligible movement in the total number of level crossings.

    Looking but not seeing, looking straight through.

    Notorious, says who?
    Any data, or opinion?
    michaelgm
    Qualitative assessment given in a panel discussion here a couple of years ago, which was the first time I had heard the 'looking straight through' description of when a driver looks in the direction of the hazard but doesn't actually process that it's a hazard.

    I'll try to find if the panel discussion was recorded and made available online.
      nm39 Chief Commissioner

    Location: By a road taking pictures
    But even so the public is still horrified at the apparently dangerous nature of unprotected crossings every time an incident like this happens - despite the incidence being statistically very low.

    In order to meet the new nanny-state expectations we have in the 21st century you would need to remove every single unprotected crossing along a railway line to ensure that a collision doesn't happen; I'm not sure if there's any other way around that problem of human behaviour.
    don_dunstan
    It is my opinion (you know what opinions are like) that ALL level crossings need to be removed as the quality of driving skills found among the general population of drivers doesn't allow for what seems to be common sense around level crossings. The safest place for a train is in a well ventilated tunnel away from crazy rubber tyre vehicle operators.

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