Letter to the Editor: Train safety billboard telling drivers to “expect the unexpected” is unacceptable

Lara Jensen, Mt Magnet Albany Advertiser
Narrogin Observer reader Lara Jensen spotted this billboard between Clackline and Northam in the Wheatbelt.
Camera IconNarrogin Observer reader Lara Jensen spotted this billboard between Clackline and Northam in the Wheatbelt. Credit: Lara Jensen/Supplied

When I spotted this TrackSAFE Foundation billboard while travelling between Clackline and Northam in the Wheatbelt today, I just shook my head.

My immediate thought was this — as a motorist, surely if I was dealing with a clearly identifiable and properly illuminated hazard, I wouldn’t have to “expect the unexpected”.

It made me ponder the hypothetical of an equivalent campaign to warn motorists about trucks and the collective eyebrows that would be raised by road safety authorities as a consequence.

But such a campaign isn’t necessary, is it?

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That’s because the Australian road transport industry already has mandatory and enforced safety lighting regulations for trucks and trailers, not to mention the strictest protocols in place for moving oversized loads that include the requirement for pilot vehicles, escorts and trucks to all be fitted with flashing beacons (the accepted indicator of a hazard on our roads) and UHF radios to warn the oncoming motorist that a hazardous load (strictly not permitted to be escorted after dark) is coming.

And then on the other hand there are the trains in our regions that this billboard warns us to look out for.

They have no escorts, no flashing lights, no means for train drivers to communicate with motorists, no side lighting and no special permits required to move at night.

Why? Because as rail operators will tell you “trains have right of way” and that is supposed to be acceptable.

Well, I’m sorry but it’s not.

Instead of wasting their money on responsibility-dodging, reality-eschewing campaigns such as this one, the rail industry would get far better bang for their buck if they lit up their trains so motorists are given every opportunity to actually see them at unlit, unprotected crossings in our regions.

Lara Jensen, Mt Magnet

Letters to the editor must contain the author’s full name, address and daytime contact number. Letters may be edited for space, clarity or legal reasons. Email news@narroginobserver.com or post to PO Box 5168 Albany, WA, 6332.

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