12 April 2019

Government ramps up safety campaign ahead of light rail launch

| Lachlan Roberts
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There have been a series of close calls’ between light rail vehicles and motorists in the past few months. Screen grabs from Transport Canberra video.

The ACT Government is ramping up its safety campaign ahead of the light rail launch by releasing a compilation of near misses between motorists/pedestrians and light rail vehicles to caution Canberrans to be more alert on the roads.

With light rail coming into operation next week, ACT Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said interstate experiences show the first few months when a new light rail network opens is when road users and vulnerable road users are most at risk.

In the past month, a pedestrian was hit and a LRV driver ran a red light during the testing phase but as the new footage shows, several near misses have also occurred during this time. The new video released by the ACT Government shows cars failing to obey the signals and entering intersections in front of the LRV as well as pedestrians making a mad dash in front of the moving vehicle.

Mr Rattenbury reminded drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to share the road with light rail, take road safety seriously and not to take dangerous risks so they don’t “become a statistic” when light rail begins on Saturday April 20.

“Everyone must be patient as they adjust to sharing the road with light rail, especially during peak hour when a light rail vehicle crosses an intersection every four minutes,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This is a really exciting time for our city and we all need to take particular care around light rail.

“The near misses we have seen so far are a reminder that road safety is everyone’s responsibility and the importance of staying alert around light rail.”

Despite the light rail system not creating any new road rules for drivers, some Canberra motorists seem to be having trouble navigating the road since the introduction of the new public transport system.

Mr Rattenbury said the public needs to recognise that all crashes are preventable and they must continue to obey all signs and traffic signals around the tracks.

“What has changed for drivers is light rail vehicles have priority over cars at intersections and this means lights won’t change in a regular order anymore,” he said. “But if you are obeying the traffic lights you will be safe.

“You must be prepared to stop at an amber light and do not queue across an intersection because a light rail vehicle might be coming towards you.

“For pedestrians, because intersections have changed you may not be able to cross the road in one go anymore. You should always stop before you cross because you may not hear a light rail vehicle approaching and must stop to look.

“Light rail vehicles take longer to stop than cars so be alert and keep your eyes on the road and tracks, not on your phone.”

The footage shows vehicles nearly colliding with the LRV.

Mr Rattenbury also reminded cyclists to pay particular attention when crossing the light rail tracks and be careful their bicycle wheels do not get caught in the grooves of the tracks.

He advised cyclists and pedestrians to take advantage of the recently built mid-block designated crossings and intersections and not to dash across the light rail tracks.

“The ACT is committed to Vision Zero – that is, no death on our roads is acceptable,” he said. “We should not accept any road crash that results in injury or death, and we must recognise that all crashes are preventable.”

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I don’t know how the ACT Government can pretend to be concerned about road safety and vulnerable road users, blah blah blah, while they continue to permit drivers like these to use public roads – most of them are blatantly running red lights!

Melbourne has had trams since before most of us were born yet they still have serious accidents. To introduce unwanted trams at road level in the ACT is not only arrogant but borders on the negligent if the Government refuses to recognise the fact that they have introduced a major new traffic hazards.

If no-one has already, I’d like to coin the term “tram jam”. Do I need to explain what that is?

Cyclists will need to obey the road rules along with everyone else – that will take them some time to get used to.

Capital Retro11:36 am 13 Apr 19

The elevated monorail option would have obviated all these problems and it would have been sexier.

Conditions have changed. People do drive/walk on “auto pilot” where they have made the same journey 100’s or 1000’s of times before. This will involve an adjustment for people. I’m not a northside driver, but I drove across the rails not long ago, driving in the dark. I couldn’t see the rails until I was right up on them.

Capital Retro5:41 pm 13 Apr 19

One does not expect to see rails on a road these days. One hundred year old tram technology is not compatible with modern motor vehicles and their roads.

Note I said tram and not light rail because trams share roadway intersections in Canberra and light rail runs on its own carriageway exclusively.

Wait for the spin.

Oh yes it’s all funny jokes about how only morons will get hit by the tram. Except for the fact it will actually happen and someone, or maybe several people, will be killed. But hey, it’s just a human life, we’ll put it down to teeth problems and run more education campaigns.

Anyone who has actually stood on the Northbourne median strip as the tram comes through an intersection will appreciate it’s nothing like the trams in Melbourne. Nor is it like trains anywhere else with a raised and separated platform. It’s an enormous vehicle, travelling out of sync with traffic, bearing down at 70kmh – and it makes very little noise.

Yes I totally agree. These light rail vehicles are very quiet and do travel fairly fast.

I’m waiting for it. All the trams fault. Need fences need this need that don’t need light rail.

Everything except the obvious which is obey the road rules and bloody well look.

What? Personal responsibility?

Radical thought isn’t it?

Capital Retro10:04 pm 12 Apr 19

“don’t need light rail.”

You have got that bit right JC.

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