With an increase in traffic levels on the region’s roads, Transport for Greater Manchester have launched a new campaign in which they encourage motorist to be “tram aware”. Between April 2019 and March 2021, 122 road traffic collisions were recorded between motorists, cyclists or pedestrians and trams and now TfGM are determined for awareness to be raised to reduce this number even further.
TfGM Head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “As the country continues to emerge from lockdown and more vehicles inevitably return to the road, its vital that motorists remain vigilant and attentive when driving close to the Metrolink network – particularly in those areas where our trams run on the highway. Our M-5000 trams weigh almost 40 tonnes and have the potential to cause significant injury and damage if they are involved in a collision, so please take extra care when driving. Most collisions are down to motorist error, and by launching this campaign we are hoping to not only reduce the number of collisions between road vehicles and trams – and therefore reduce the risk of people getting injured – but also the additional consequences, such as the financial cost and the disruption caused to our customers.”
Figures released by TfGM have shown that of the 122 collisions in that two years period, 77 involved motorists, 10 cyclists and 35 pedestrians. Of those most of those involving motorists were down to motorist error (70%) with nearly one in 10 resulting in injuries and this new campaign uses real footage of incidents to demonstrate the impact of poor driving habits.
During 2019, road traffic collisions led to £250,000 having to spent on repairing just five trams – and these were then out of service for a combined total of six months.
While the number of collisions does remain small compared to the number of trips made each day on the region’s roads, this campaign seeks to reduce that number even further.
On top of the campaign TfGM and Metrolink operator, KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) are working together to prevent incidents at so-called hotspot locations. This has included working alongside Oldham Council where the layout of a junction between Oldham Central and Oldham Mumps has recently been altered after tram drivers reported a number of near misses with other road users at that location.
Ben Kershaw, KAM’s Health, Safety, Quality and Environmental Director, also reiterated the training drivers go through before they are allowed out on the network: “KAM follows a stringent driver selection and training process, including psychometric testing, drug and alcohol screening, health and fitness checks and more than 300 hours of both theoretical and practical training before being approved to drive trams. As part of their initial and ongoing training and development, drivers undergo hazard perception testing, using a bespoke tram simulator to assess vigilance and awareness of the risks associated with driving in shared road space, including the unpredictable nature of motorists and pedestrians.”