Drivers need upgrade

Peter Farago
STATE Government’s announcement that it would place early warning signals at all railway level crossings on highways is a good initiative.
But educating drivers to stop playing chicken with trains should be a bigger focus.
The Labor Government is an expert at advertising, even managing to squeeze political messages into its information campaigns.
But recent collisions between trains and road vehicles at level crossings have not sparked action at Spring Street.
Modifying intersections so that roads and rail tracks crossings are perpendicular would be a good strategy to also follow for highway crossings.
South Australia and New South Wales road authorities have used a similar plan on some rail and road junctions, which effectively forces motorists to slow down as they approach an intersection.
It doesn’t make a driver stop but it means they can’t claim to not have seen an oncoming train because of poor design creating blind spots.
Victoria has applied early warning signals to major road intersections across the state, including at traffic lights at the Corio intersection of Princes Highway and Broderick Road.
These flashing lights, attached to signs warning of approach traffic lights, signal before the traffic lights start to change, alerting drivers they will be seeing red lights by the time they arrive at the intersection.
In the Corio case, the warning signals are designed to slow traffic flowing off the end of the Princes Freeway and into the suburbs.
The intersection is now adjacent to a supermarket.
Early warning signals are set to be placed on railway crossings surrounding Geelong on the Surf Coast, Midland, Princes and Hamilton highways.
But this technology is not foolproof because it doesn’t stop people running red lights.
A Melbourne newspaper’s report this week highlighting rural drivers continuing to run across rail tracks in front of trains blowing their horns demonstrates that changing drivers’ attitudes would probably be the most successful way to reduce road fatalities, whether they are at railway level crossings or any other road intersection.
But that’s not to say designing public roads to ensure every driver gets plenty of warning of impending danger is not welcomed.
Country railway lines are particularly dangerous, considering that very big freight trains run at often infrequent times, surprising some locals who think the train line is not in use.
That’s why drivers need to remind themselves – or be reminded – they aren’t the only ones on the road.

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