RISKY driver behaviour at level crossings is being targeted by police in support of a campaign in parts of the Upper Hunter this week.
From Monday, March 23, to Friday, April 3, officers from Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and Hunter Valley Police District will increase patrols at level crossings in the region.
The campaign is aimed at boosting public safety and awareness around rail level crossings in regional NSW - part of an ongoing series of enforcement campaigns between the NSW Police Force and the NSW Centre for Road Safety at Transport for NSW.
During the initiative, police will be on the look-out for motorists disobeying level crossing flashing lights and stop signs; vehicles queuing over the railway tracks; speeding near level crossings; and drivers who are distracted by illegal use of mobile phones.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Command's Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said people need to take personal responsibility when around level crossings to ensure the path is clear.
"Speed and distractions are both major factors when it comes to level crossing collisions," he stated.
"Those few moments of inattention can be fatal.
"Police will be targeting drivers speeding near level crossings and those who are distracted.
"The consequences of a car or truck hitting a train are severe, so 'Train to Stop'.
"Police issued almost 1000 penalty notices for level crossing traffic offences in the past two years.
"We all have a responsibility when behind the wheel, not only for ourselves, passengers and other road users, but also train passengers and crew."
Through the road safety campaign Towards Zero, the NSW Government is working hard to drive the road toll down by highlighting the only acceptable number when it comes to deaths and serious injuries on NSW roads is zero.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen said there was no excuse for putting yours and other lives on the line at level crossings.
"Trains can travel at speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and can take up to one-and-a-half kilometres to come to a complete stop," he explained.
"That means that by the time they see you, it's often too late.
"Signs, flashing lights, boom gates and markings are all there for a good reason, and drivers, riders and pedestrians need to pay attention.
"We all have a duty of care when driving, not only for ourselves, passengers and other road users, but also for train passengers and crew.
"Come on Upper Hunter, we can do this.
"We can do the right thing and keep everyone safe."
The penalty for disobeying controls is three demerit points and a $457 fine.