Highway patrol is increasing police presence at country rail crossings even as a camera trial has revealed almost one in three drivers didn't stop at the one at Red Bend.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) commissioned road camera technology developer Acusensus to monitor level crossings at the Red Bend crossing near Forbes as well as Culcairn and Scone over one to three months.
Each of the three crossings is controlled by "stop" signs, without boom gates.
Almost one in three (7403) of the more than 25,000 vehicles using the Red Bend crossing between December and March ignored the stop signs and continued across the crossing.
Acusensus data indicates they're regular users of the road: 965 vehicles were responsible for 4918 (66 per cent) of non-compliant crossings.
They said that alarmingly, a large number of trucks, including 345 road trains, also failed to stop.
The drivers did not receive fines or warning letters, but Acusensus managing director said the level of non-compliance showed more needed to be done to educate motorists.
"This trial marks an important step in understanding how motorists are behaving around level crossings and where there are opportunities to use this data to affect long-lasting change," Mr Jannink said.
There is very little a train can do to avoid a collision at those speeds, so it is up to drivers to observe the traffic signals, which are there for both their safety, and the safety of rail users too.
According to the Transport for NSW Level Crossing Strategy Council's 2021 report, 926 of the 1360 public road level crossings in NSW are controlled by "give-way" or "stop" signs.
It reported seven collisions between a road vehicle and a train in 2020-21, resulting in two fatalities from a collision between a B-double and a freight train at a regional level crossing with passive protection, and two serious injuries arising from a collision between a car and passenger train at a regional level crossing with passive protection.
"The trial sites include a mix of passenger and freight trains that travel at up to 120km/h through these crossings," Mr Jannink said.
"There is very little a train can do to avoid a collision at those speeds, so it is up to drivers to observe the traffic signals, which are there for both their safety, and the safety of rail users too."
The release of the trial results coincides with a campaign launched by NSW police this week to increase public safety and awareness around rail level crossings in the state's central west.
Until the end of the month, police from the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command will increase patrols at level crossings in the Quandialla and Caragabal areas.
During the campaign police will be on the look-out for motorists disobeying level crossing flashing lights and stop signs, vehicles queuing over the railway tracks, speeding near level crossings, and drivers who are distracted by illegal use of mobile phones.
Traffic and Highway Patrol, Peel Sector Manager, Inspector Kelly Wixx, said that despite the potentially fatal consequences, people are still ignoring warnings at level crossings.
"Motorists are urged not to be complacent as trains can come from any direction, at any time, and there can be multiple trains on tracks that can travel at speed of up to 160km/h," she said.
"Some trains can take more than a kilometre to come to a complete stop, so even if they see you, they can't stop.
"Disobeying level crossing warning lights and signs can lead to crashes between vehicles and trains where the consequences can be deadly."
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