13 April 2019

Police disappointed but not surprised by number of light rail near misses

| Lachlan Roberts
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Officer in Charge Traffic Operations, Acting Station Sergeant David Wills. Photos: George Tsotsos.

ACT Police say the number of close calls between motorists/pedestrians and light rail vehicles is disappointing but not unexpected as the light rail launch day nears.

A video released by the ACT Government on Friday morning (12 April) showed a series of 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.

Over the past three weeks, ACT Policing members have targeted the light rail route from the city all the way Gungahlin to observe the behaviour of motorists and pedestrians around the corridor.

Officer in Charge Traffic Operations, Acting Station Sergeant David Wills said police would use their discretion whether to fine or just caution motorists or pedestrians failing to comply with road rules.

“Disappointingly, earlier this week there were some offences that were noted like mobile phones, seat belts, not giving way when they should and pedestrians crossing when they shouldn’t,” he said.

“There has been a period when we focused on the education side of things. However, there have been circumstances where the activity that has occurred hasn’t warranted caution and a fine has been given.

“When the services start and it becomes revenue, we won’t change our approach. We are going to be approaching this on a case-by-case situation, dealing with the incidents as they arise.”

Acting Station Sergeant Wills says fines could be enforced on pedestrians refusing to obey road rules.

Acting Station Sergeant Wills reminded motorists and pedestrians that fines could be enforced.

“For most of the pedestrian fines, if we are looking at crossing against signals, I believe it’s around $150 for the infringement,” he said. “What will happen is that the police officer that will speak or deal with that person will assess the circumstances and will make a decision whether it will be a caution or a fine.

“It may even be the case of multiple fines.

“You can not put a price on safety and we are looking towards Vision Zero – a goal of no deaths on the road.”

Acting Station Sergeant Wills stressed that the road rules are simple and easy to follow and reminded Canberrans to have safety at the forefront of their minds.

“Light rail is something new that the community of the ACT is going to have to get used to,” he said. “The near-misses are pretty confronting when you consider that any collision between a light rail vehicle and either a pedestrian or a vehicle has the potential to be a tragic one.

“For road users, things have changed and things will be different but in a very short time, they will become the norm. Until that happens, it is important that road users take heed of the advice we are providing.

“The signs are very clear and very obviously displayed.

“Don’t queue across, don’t race across, don’t cross when it is not safe, look left and right; its the simple stuff that we ask of people.”

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