Drivers dice with death

A SPLIT-SECOND decision at a level crossing could mean the difference between living and dying – and according to Queensland Rail figures, too many people are taking unnecessary risks.

The decision to cross in front of an oncoming train cost five people in Queensland their lives in 2008.

Many more drivers are involved in collisions with trains because they just are not patient enough.

Between January 2009 to August 2010 there were 16 “near-misses” at level crossings in the Maryborough area.

Six of those were right in town at the crossing on Lennox Street.

Others were reported at Kent Street, Nagel Street, Sussex Street, Maryborough/Biggenden Road and Dunn Street.

A “near-miss” is an incident in which a train driver had to take action to avoid a collision.

A Queensland Rail spokesman said driving in front of a train was simply not worth the risk.

“There were 702 near-miss incidents around Queensland during 2009 – more than half of those happened at crossings with boom gates and flashing lights,” the spokesman said.

“Queensland Rail has been working with its train drivers and guards to increase their reporting of near misses, to help police crack down on dangerous behaviour at level crossings.”

Transport Worker’s Union state secretary Hughie Williams said the growing number of near misses was due to the failure of governments to address the issue.

“We’ve been experiencing near misses at level crossings for many years but nothing’s been done,” he said.

“Level crossings adjacent to busy intersections create dangerous situations with fatal consequences.

“Instead of buck passing from council to state government and back again, the TWU wants to see a plan in place to address these trouble spots.

“Funding has to be found. A price can’t be put on people’s lives.”

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