Safety regulator alarmed by rise in serious tram incidents

16 March 2016

Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) figures for 2015 show that there was not a single fatality for the first time this decade. However, there were 47 serious injuries - the highest number in a single year since 2008 and up from a low of 15 in 2012.

David Hourigan, Director Transport Safety, said he was concerned by the rise in injuries because it showed people were not hearing, or heeding, safety messages.

"Of the 47 people seriously injured in 2015, 28 were involved in a collision with a tram. A further eight people collided with a tram but fortunately were not seriously hurt.

"Many of the reported collisions are a result of distraction – something that is totally in the control of the pedestrian or driver," Mr Hourigan said.  

Trams are unable to respond quickly to avoid incidents so pedestrians and drivers need to stay alert and take charge of their own safety.

There was also a sharp increase in the number of slips, trips and falls at the tram platform interface reported to TSV - from an average of 10 for the previous four years to 31 in 2015.

Twenty four of the 31 slips, trips and falls at a tram platform interface occurred when people were getting on or off the tram.

"Journeys outside Melbourne are typically on tourist and heritage trams and many of the passengers are tourists, retired people or children on outings.

"Older passengers and children are particularly at risk of falling and should sit down while the tram is moving and hold on tightly at all times.  

"Tourist and heritage trams have steep steps which can be difficult to negotiate if you have any physical limitations on your movements.

"Children have short legs and older passengers might be less agile than they once were so it makes sense to use the hand rails when getting on or off the tram.

"TSV is continuously working with the operators of tourist and heritage trams on a wide range of issues that contribute to improved passenger safety," Mr Hourigan explained.