Every year, U.I.C. (International Union Of Railways) observes one day as the International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD). This year, 22nd June 2010 is being observed as ILCAD. Indian Railways has decided to participate in this global campaign to sensitize road users to increase safety at un-manned level crossings. The international level crossing awareness day focuses on educational measures and the promotion of safe behaviour at and around level crossings. It is built on existing national events which will be held jointly at various locations in every participating country on 22nd June, 2010 and constructed around the common message “Act Safely At Level Crossings!”. Despite all the measures taken to indicate the presence of level crossings and make them safe, too many road users and pedestrians are killed or injured at such crossings each year right around the world.
The number of unmanned level crossing accidents occurring on Indian Railways is a cause of concern. At present, there are total 35,363 numbers of Level Crossings over Indian Railways out of which 17,954 are Unmanned where the accidents occur primarily due to inadequate precautions by the road users failing to observe mandatory sign boards, signals and basic traffic safety rules. Over the last five years, the train accidents at unmanned level crossings have marginally reduced from 65 in the year 2005-06 to 62 in 2009-10. In 2009-10, fatalities in level crossing accidents comprised nearly 74 percent of all fatalities in train accidents in India. While driving, the road user is supposed to take precautions as stipulated in section-3 and 131 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 of having a valid license and ensuring that before passing the unmanned level crossing, the road user stops, looks around and only if no train is approaching, proceeds ahead.
Indian Railways carry out intensive social awareness campaigns, on a regular basis, to educate road users. This includes publicity campaigns through various media like newspapers, TV, Radio etc., distribution of posters, leaflets, various short duration films/advertisements etc. even in local languages have been prepared by the Zonal Railways for educating the road users about the precautions to be taken while negotiating the unmanned level crossings. There is a need to educate people at Village Panchayats, Schools, weekly markets in rural areas and also carry out ambush checks at unmanned level crossings. Chief Secretaries of All States and Administrators in UTs are requested from time to time to advise District Commissioners and Transport Authorities in their State/UTs to also launch necessary campaign, make ambush checks etc. to ensure strict compliance of Section 3 and 131 of Motor Vehicles Act 1988 by all road users while negotiating unmanned level crossings.
To enhance the safety and reduce inconvenience to road users, busy level crossings are being replaced by Road Over Bridges (ROB) / Road Under Bridges (RUB) and Limited Height Sub-Ways (LHS) gradually. In the year 2009-10, 249 ROB/ RUB/ LHS have been commissioned under various schemes, like 93 nos are built under cost sharing, 4 nos under BOT, 16 nos under Deposit works, 24 nos under Accommodation Works and 40 nos for NHAI. In the current financial year (2010-11) also, the targets of such Road Safety Works are substantially enhanced. Indian Railways has substantially increased the pace of manning of Unmanned Level Crossings with an ambition to eliminate all Unmanned Level Crossings in next five years.
As its contribution towards the above efforts, Ministry of Railways (Railway Board) has directed all Indian Railways to launch seven days long drive specially targeting safety at unmanned level crossings w.e.f. 22nd June, 2010. During the drive emphasis will be laid on the following:-
(i) Organizing public awareness campaigns to educate/counsel villagers and road users and make them aware of the provisions of motor vehicles act and railway act by distributing posters, pamphlets, handbills etc. in gram panchayats, markets, petrol pumps and other public places. SMS on mobile to road users staying near rural areas.
(ii) Publicity campaign through various media including newspapers, television, radio and slides in cinema halls, with an appeal to road users to observe all precautions embodied in motor vehicles Act and Railway Act.
(iii) Organizing safety seminars at various places in the divisions including road transport offices.
(iv) Checking the whistling habits of drivers (as per modification to whistle code circulated vide letter No. 2010/Safety (A&R)/19/8 dated 14.05.2010) while approaching the level crossings by deputing officers and supervisors in the first coach immediately after the Locos and EMUs.
(v) Joint ambush checks involving RPF, GRP and civil authorities at the Level Crossings and apprehending errant road users under sections of motor vehicles act.
(vi) Ensuring availability of speed breakers, whistle boards, road signs and stop boards as per provisions laid down in the IRPWM.
Indian Railways solicit cooperation from all citizens to help Railways in making the event successful in the interest of safety of road users.
For detailed information on good practices and educational material designed to highlight the issue of misbehavior at and around level crossings, you may kindly see dedicated website for level crossing issues at http://www.levelcrossing.net and educational material at http://www.ilcad.org.