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Rail SA - Friday 28 January 2011

Tram drivers are reporting a “near miss” with pedestrians or motorists more than two out of every three days.

Transport Department figures obtained by The Advertiser reveal drivers reported 213 near misses between March last year, when the new line to the Entertainment Centre became operational, and the start of January.

Near misses involving vehicles tallied 121, while the number of pedestrian incidents was counted as 92.

A near miss is when, in the opinion of the driver, there is the significant risk of causing injury or death to any person or the potential to cause property damage.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Ashley Waddell said the figures showed some commuters were treating trams “with contempt”.

He said drivers had to be “very cautious” in the city because of the high number of near misses.

“Especially down along North Tce you get taxis and courier vans that do U-turns in front of trams and you get pedestrians that will try to run across in front of them,” he said.

“They’ll take the trams on.

“It’s an issue through the whole CBD.

“The police need to better police the tramline through the CBD.”

Pedestrian Council of Australia president Harold Scruby called for jaywalking fines to be increased to at least $100.

At present in South Australia they are $55, which includes the Victims of Crime levy.

“Also wherever there is … high pedestrian activity the speed limit should be 40km/h,” Mr Scruby said.

A poolice spokesman said transit officers monitored the North Tce tram line daily.

SA Police also frequently initiated “Operation Amble”, which targeted city pedestrians.

Transport Department spokesman Ross Stargett said many of the incidents involved pedestrians crossing tracks “in an unsafe manner at non-designated crossing points”.

He noted no fatalities had occurred on the tram network in the past six years.

“While the majority of pedestrians and motorists obey the law and behave in a safe manner, risk-taking behaviours continue to occur both within the CBD and elsewhere on the network,” he said.
© Rail SA