Most of Railway Accidents Occur Due to Traffic Regulation Violations
The statistical information prepared by the Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority (TJA) indicates that during the 1st half-year of 2010 occurred 14 railway accidents in Estonia. That number includes 8 road vehicle – train collisions in which were killed 2 and injured 4 persons. Railway rolling stock hit 6 persons trespassing on railways, 4 of whom were killed and 2 injured.
The number of both collisions and persons hit show an increase compared to the previous year. The main reason why the accidents occur is the violation of traffic regulation by persons involved in traffic and the negligence of some people who are just not willing to improve their behaviour in traffic.
All the train – motor vehicle collisions that took place during the first half of 2010 were caused by the violation of traffic regulations by the motor vehicle drivers. One factor contributed to the growing number of collisions was the large quantity of snow we had last winter. It is thought that four out of eight accidents happened due to the inability of drivers to choose driving speed and style corresponding to weather and road conditions.
The level crossing collisions occurred both on level crossings with automatic traffic lights (e.g. Pikkjärve and Vägeva) and unregulated level crossings (e.g. Männiku and Klooga-Ranna).
The government and rail infrastructure managers are dealing actively with surveying the existing level crossings, their equipment and location in order to make traffic safer. For example, the planning of reconstruction of the Klooga-Ranna level crossing is already underway and automatic traffic lights will be installed on this crossing in the near future. The reconstruction design of the Männiku level crossing has been approved and TJA has issued the respective construction permit for starting the work. According to the reconstruction project, two uncomfortable level crossings at Männiku will be replaced by one level crossing that is much more comfortable and equipped with modern devices.
Considering the increasing maximum speed limit of trains the infrastructure managers plan to equip the majority of level crossings on Tallinn-Tapa railway line with automatic traffic lights and level crossing gates.
All the accidents involving people hit by rolling stock that occurred in the first half of 2010 happened due to trespassing. The more detailed circumstances and reasons of the accidents are determined by police investigation.
The Technical Surveillance Authority analyses continuously the circumstances of all the accidents that occur on railways in order to find technical solutions to the problems in cooperation with our infrastructure managers and organisations dealing with railway safety. In railway planning activities the Technical Surveillance Authority cooperates densely with the local governments in order to make railway safety activities compliant with the regional needs.
The analysis of accidents shows that the traffic culture of many Estonian citizens cannot still keep up with the rapid railway infrastructure development. The negligence of people of the rules applicable on railways and their unwillingness to improve their behaviour are still major problems.
One of the priorities of the Technical Surveillance Authority in the field of railway safety is continuous educational work with the objective to improve people’s behaviour in traffic. The educational work is carried out in cooperation with an international organisation dealing with railway safety that is called OLE (Operation lifesaver Estonia). The railway safety campaign that lasts until the end of 2010 with the slogan “It is closer than you think! Estimate the speed and distance of an approaching train correctly!"(www.tja.ee/raudteeohutus ) wishes to tell to as many Estonians as possible that railway is an area with increased danger level where people can move around safely only if they follow traffic lights, signs and safety requirements.
In order to avoid railway accidents drivers and pedestrians should pay particular attention to the specific features and dangers of railway traffic. Traffic education starts at home and relies on the values of parents. Therefore, it is extremely important that parents explained their children constantly and thoroughly the rules of safe traffic behaviour.
Addition al information:
Chief PR Specialist
Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority
Sõle 23A, 10614 Tallinn