International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) 2024

The International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), a global initiative headed by the International Union of Railways (UIC), is preparing for its 16th annual launch. Its aim is to raise the public’s awareness of the risks at level crossings and to increase safety. This campaign, which is widely followed by the world's railway community, is a key event for those involved in the sector.

Around fifty countries generally take part in the annual ILCAD campaign.

Each year, a partner country organises the launch conference, providing an opportunity to share best practice and projects aiming to improve safety and reduce the number of incidents at level crossings.

According to UIC estimates, there are more than half a million level crossings in the world, including more than 100,000 in the European Union and more than 200,000 in the United States (with 20% and 40% respectively). Argentina also has more than 13,000 level crossings on 23,000km of railway track.

In the EU, United States, and almost everywhere, accidents and fatalities involving level crossings account for almost a third of all rail accidents. If incidents involving pedestrians trespassing on the tracks are included, this figure increases to over 90% of all rail accidents.

In Argentina, there were 340 collisions at active level crossings (protected by barriers, lights, alarms, etc.) in 2021 compared with 433 in 2023. Almost half of these involved vulnerable people, the vast majority of them pedestrians (172), with a total of 129 deaths in 2021 compared with 57 in 2023.

All around the world, regardless of country or culture, the rail industry faces the same problems at level crossings and near tracks.

The vast majority of collisions are caused by users deliberately taking risks or making the wrong decisions through oversight, habit, or by being distracted.

Risk assessments, as well as technical solutions and innovation, are used to improve the most dangerous level crossings.

In addition to safety measures, education/awareness initiatives can be launched to improve safety at level crossings and, if necessary, enforcement measures can then be implemented to counter inappropriate behaviour at level crossings, and on and near tracks.

By raising awareness, educating and working in collaboration with various sectors, ILCAD and TRESPAD strive to reduce the number of incidents and save lives.

This year, we are placing particular emphasis on the safety of vulnerable people, with the slogan: "Beware of trains. Life can change in a split second".

This year, our TRESPAD conference on trespassing and suicide prevention and our ILCAD conference on safety at level crossings will be jointly organised by UIC and the Junta de Seguridad en el Transporte (JST), the Argentinian Transport Safety Board, in Buenos Aires on 5 and 6 June 2024. We will be addressing crucial topics such as risk assessment, technical solutions, education, public awareness and cross-sector collaboration (road, rail, police, decision-makers, land-use planning) to ensure rail safety, with speakers hailing from Latin America, Europe, Canada, the USA, India and Australia and industry leaders from the sector, such as Schweizer Electronic from Switzerland, Wavetrain from Norway, ENSCO from the US; and Gmundener Fertigteile-Bodan from Austria, who will be exhibiting their technical solutions.

A few figures:

According to the UIC safety report https://safetydb.uic.org in 2022:

At level crossings: the 34 partner railway companies (within 32 countries) reported an average of 9 victims per week at level crossings. The vast majority of accidents at level crossings were collisions with vehicles, with 38% being fatal and 36% causing serious injuries. Pedestrians accounted for 19% of fatalities and 7% of serious injuries.

Trespassing: 62% of all major accidents involving at least one casualty (injury or fatality) were reported to have been caused by trespassing.

Rail suicides accounted for between 1 and 18% of suicides nationwide. Suicides and suicide attempts occur mainly during the day, when trespassing occurs both during the day and at night (in the majority of cases).

The International Union of Railways (UIC)

UIC is the worldwide organisation for the promotion of rail transport at a global level and for the collaborative development of the railway system. It brings together more than 200 members across all five continents, including railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, and railway service providers. UIC maintains close cooperative links with all stakeholders in the rail transport domain around the world, including manufacturers, railway associations, and public authorities, as well as in other domains and sectors whose experiences may be beneficial to rail development. UIC's main tasks include understanding the business needs of the rail community, developing innovation programmes to identify solutions to those needs, as well as preparing and publishing documents, such as reports, specifications, guidelines and IRSs that facilitate the implementation of these innovative solutions.

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