S2/2011R Safety Study on Level Crossing Accidents 2011
In 2011, there were 25 level crossing accidents. This is the smallest annual number of accidents during the reference period 1991–2011. Two people were killed and three seriously injured in these accidents. The number of deaths is also the smallest during the reference period. There were two fatal motor vehicle accidents; both occurred at unprotected level crossings on a private road.
Of the four accidents investigated by the Safety Investigation Authority in 2011, three had similar background factors, as discovered in earlier investigations:
- these accidents take place at level crossings on private roads, unequipped with warning devices
- the road typically has a speed limit of 80 km/h
- the level crossing conditions do not comply with the technical guidelines for the rail network (RATO, Ratatekniset ohjeet in Finnish)
- the vehicle's driver is typically accustomed to using level crossings, which is why they are not as perceptive as they should be when approaching the level crossing.
Based on statistical analysis, a more permanent trend can be detected in the fall in the number of level crossing accidents. A statistical analysis of the numbers of accidents occurring at level crossings shows that, in 2009–2011, there was a clear improvement in comparison to previous years.
In 2011, there were 205 cases of barrier damage, according to collected data. Barrier damage mostly consists of barriers broken by vehicles. Most barrier damage occurs in locations with harbours, industry, and heavy traffic to and from such places. Every occasion when a barrier is broken by a vehicle is a potential accident. Not enough is known about the mechanisms leading to barrier damage.
Nearly half of all incidents of barrier damage on secondary lines/industrial lines occurred in the Mussalo harbour in Kotka. Other localities with several damage cases were the harbour towns Kemi, Oulu, Kokkola and Pori. In inland Finland, most damage occurred in Mänttä-Vilppula.
At the end of 2011, 806 level crossings had been equipped with warning devices; the remaining 2,939 level crossings did not have warning devices. Since 2004, the number of level crossings without warning devices has decreased by 810, and by 116 a year on average.
On 23 February 2012, the Safety Investigation Authority, Finland, published a safety study on level crossing accidents (S1/2011R), examining all previously issued recommendations on level crossings and issuing new recommendations. Based on this investigation, the recommendations issued earlier remain relevant. The Safety Investigation Authority does not consider it necessary to issue new safety recommendations.