Australia: attention diversion, likely cause of collision

19 Apr

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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its report into the collision on a passive crossing that occurred on March 19th, 2012 near Port Germain in South Australia. As a result of the collision, the passenger in the motor vehicle sustained fatal injuries.

The summary from the ATSB is reproduced below:

What happened

On 19 March 2012, Pacific National ore train 4460S travelling on the interstate main line between Port Augusta and Port Pirie collided with an eastbound motor vehicle on the Port Flinders Causeway Road level crossing, about 10 km south of Port Germein in South Australia. The level crossing was controlled by passive approach warning signs and a ‘Stop’ sign at the crossing.

There were two occupants in the motor vehicle. The passenger was fatally injured and the driver suffered serious injuries. The crew of the train were physically unhurt.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver of the road vehicle involved in the collision did not come to a complete stop at the railway crossing and entered the crossing in the path of the approaching ore train. The ATSB concluded that the motorist’s attentional resources might have been diverted during a critical period when they would normally have stopped to look for a train.

What’s been done as a result

Minor corrective action was taken to replace a missing ‘Railway Crossing’ assembly which should have been situated on top of the ‘Stop’ sign on the western approach to the crossing. The absence of the ‘Railway Crossing’ assembly was not considered a factor that contributed to the collision as it was found that the motorist regularly used the crossing and the ‘Stop’ sign was still in place.

Safety messageCar involved in collision near Port Germain, March 19th, 2012. Source ATSB

The occurrence highlights the need for drivers of motor vehicles to be vigilant and obey road traffic signage.

Should you wish to read the full report it can be found at:

One Response to “Australia: attention diversion, likely cause of collision”

  1. Andrew Fraser April 19, 2013 at 16:15 #

    A fairly good report, on the whole. It doesn’t get to the bottom of the problem … but the authors have made a fair effort. There’s less of a victim blaming attitude than I’ve come to expect. But it is let down by the safety message:
    “The occurrence highlights the need for drivers of motor vehicles to be vigilant and obey road traffic signage.”
    In fact, the occurrence highlights the need for system designers to take responsibility for their systems’ effects and allow for users’ limited abilities. I know, that’s easy to say …

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