Why teach rail safety?
Rail safety is an essential life skill
Learning safety skills around trains and train tracks from a young age is as important as learning to cross the road or learning how to swim. All children are likely to come across trains and train tracks at level crossings, pedestrian level crossings, train station platforms or in areas without fencing such as farms or rural environments at some stage in their lives. There is huge value in students learning how to be, and why it’s important to be safe around trains, tracks and level crossings, no matter which part of Australia you live in.
Student exposure to trains and train tracks is high
Australia’s rail network is the sixth largest in the world, with 44,000 km of track and 23,500 level crossings across the network. A large portion of the network is unfenced.
An estimated 250,000 Australian school students use the rail network to commute to school each day, many of whom are unsupervised. Many more students from both urban and rural areas catch trains during weekends and school holidays, and use level crossings as pedestrians or passengers in vehicles.
Risk taking is common
Australian rail operators report that school students regularly take risks near platform edges and on level crossings, not demonstrating the behaviours necessary to keep themselves safe around trains and tracks. Often these actions are due to distraction, complacency (e.g. urban students who commute daily, or rural students who do not expect trains), unfamiliarity (e.g. rural students visiting an urban environment) or peer pressure; however, these actions can cost young people dearly.
There are also some young people who engage in risky behaviour on or near train tracks deliberately and wilfully. A disproportionate number of young people trespass daily on train tracks to apply graffiti or vandalise property, deliberately risking their own and others’ lives, with the attitude that the potential lifelong consequences of their actions ‘won’t happen to them’.
The consequences can be catastrophic
Regardless of the intent, the consequences can be catastrophic, involving permanent injuries or even fatality.
On average, across Australia each year there are a total of:
- 166 collisions between trains and people or vehicles, including 35 collisions causing fatality (excluding suicide); plus
- thousands of reported near collisions, with many more that go unreported.
It’s a fantastic risk mitigation strategy for teachers
While your students may not ordinarily engage in risk taking behaviour, if they are distracted or in a peer pressure situation, they may not have the skills or ability to make the safe choice at the crucial moment. This could be the case regardless of whether they are around trains regularly or very infrequently.
Quality rail safety education based on pedagogical methods proven by research can change this.
Safety education is fundamental for young people to learn how to act safely in unpredictable environments. Rail safety education is often overlooked as a top priority, yet the consequences of students not making safe choices can be catastrophic.
TrackSAFE Education is based on research on the most effective methodologies of teaching children about personal and community safety.
TrackSAFE Education has developed resources to make learning and teaching about rail safety easy, alleviating the pressure on teachers and parents, so young people can learn the appropriate skills needed to act safely around trains and train tracks.
By participating in lessons aligned with the Australian Curriculum; in particular personal, social and community health, students understand the importance of keeping themselves and their peers safe near trains, tracks and level crossings. Young people can learn to make their own safe choices through effective safety education, developing skills which can also help them in other areas of life.