By Thando Makoyi
A level crossing is an intersection where a railway line crosses a road or path. There are over 7500 level crossings in South Africa today, and road users are required to follow road rules, signs and pay attention when approaching such crossings.
South Africa has seen a high level of incidents at level crossings, and Traxtion, as a rail operator in Africa has a duty to ensure that there is safety and compliance at all level crossings across our operating networks. We need to be accountable and take ownership to ensure the safety of everyone.
Motorists must follow road rules and signs and pay attention to the road environment when approaching rail crossings. They must slow down and be prepared to stop when they observe a level crossing sign. Trains take a long time to stop. Even after the train driver has made an emergency brake application, the train can take over a kilometre to stop.
Pedestrians are also at risk of being struck by a train on level crossings, they should only cross at an authorised and properly marked railway crossing, preferably using the footbridge. Level crossings should never be used as a shortcut to get to the other side.
Traxtion incidents on level crossings usually involve a heavy truck. Truck drivers need to know the length of their vehicles and load overhanging in relation to space available to safely clear a crossing to the other side. They should be aware of the length of the truck and trailer in order to ensure that it will be possible to clear the level crossing.
Traxtion embarked on a level crossing awareness campaign in February 2021 to highlight the dangers of crossing level crossings unsafely. Accidents on level crossings are preventable if we work together with motorists and pedestrians. Our responsibility is educating the community about the dangers associated with trains generally, and how to avoid being the victim of level crossing accidents. Our commitment to safety is at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to making sure that everyone goes home to their families every day.