Senior Sergeant Mick Timms gave a grim encapsulation of the dangers of level crossings when he was in Bathurst on Monday morning.
A light vehicle hit by a train, the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command officer said, "can be the equivalent of a person standing on an aluminium can - that's the sort of forces that are at play".
Senior Sergeant Timms was in town as police begin a campaign to target risky driver behaviour at level crossings in Bathurst and the region.
IN OTHER NEWS AROUND BATHURST:
Until December 13, police from Traffic and Highway Patrol Command will be increasing police patrols at level crossings as they look for drivers disobeying the flashing lights and stop signs, vehicles queuing over the tracks or speeding near level crossings and drivers distracted by their phones.
Senior Sergeant Timms said level crossing accidents were tragic for everyone, including train drivers.
"Train drivers simply become passengers when a vehicle fails to stop, particularly if it's a truck," he said.
"We've had incidents where train drivers have seen trucks that aren't going to stop and the train drivers have literally had to run for their lives because they're at great risk of being injured or killed as well."
He said too many people continued to take the risk.
"We've had people crash into trains in broad daylight and that suggests to us that people just aren't paying enough attention," he said.
Senior Sergeant Timms delivered his warning at the Lloyds Road crossing, where the train to Dubbo passed through at just before 11am.
"We have had 72 crashes in the last 10 years at level crossings and the types of level crossings in the Bathurst area are typical of those where we've had problems in the past," he said.
There are 1400 level crossings in NSW, Senior Sergeant Timms said, and many only have stop signs.
"The onus is on the motorist to make sure you comply," he said.
"You might pass through that level crossing every day of the week, a couple of times a day. Maybe you haven't seen a train in a long time.
"But today could be the day that you're on a collision course with a train."
Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy of Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said there were 72 collisions between trains and cars at level crossings between July 2008 and June 2019, resulting in eight fatalities.