Level crossing collisions

There have been 254 collisions between cars and trains at public road level crossings in New Zealand from 2004 to      1 September 2015.

Vehicle level crossing collisions

On average there are around 22 collisions per year between trains and motor vehicles on public road crossings.

Since 2004 about 19 percent of road level crossing collisions occurred where half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bells were installed.  36 percent happened where flashing lights and bells were installed.  The remaining 45 percent of collisions occurred at crossings protected by signs alone.

Pedestrian level crossing collisions

There have been 31 collisions between pedestrians and trains since 2004.

Approximately 78 percent of these pedestrian level crossing collisions occurred where automatic alarms are installed.

source: KiwiRail, September 2015

Trespass incidents

Trespassers struck by trains is the leading cause of railway deaths in New Zealand.  From 1994 to 2012, 204 people have died while trespassing on railway tracks. (New Zealand Ministry of Transport data).

A significant number of trespasser deaths are considered to be suicides.


In data collected between 1990 and 2012 from the NZ Transport Agency's Crash Analysis System (CAS) relating to all collisions between motor vehicles and trains at a level crossing:

  • around two thirds of the crashes involved cars or station wagons
  • approximately 15 per cent involved vans or utes, and 8 per cent were trucks
  • 73 per cent of drivers involved in fatal and injury crashes held full drivers' licences
  • of these drivers, around 72 per cent were male
  • the highest represented group in level crossing collisions is men aged between 40-59
  • women aged over 60 are the least likely group to be involved in a level crossing collision

Interesting facts:

  • most collisions occur during daylight hours and in fine weather
  • collisions at night occur when motorists drive into the side of a train
  • a significant number of collisions occur within a close proximity of a person's home
  • around 11 per cent of all collisions happen at crossings with barrier arms

The majority of collisions occur because the driver has made a mistake (didn't look or failed to see the train) or because they thought they could beat the train over the crossing.

More statistical information can be found on the Ministry of Transport website.

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Latest news

Tawa crossing to get safety boost

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Safety on a Tawa level crossing is about to be stepped up, with KiwiRail set to install voice message units at the Collins Avenue crossing.

KiwiRail level crossing engineer Eddie Cook says the Tawa crossing is the first site in New Zealand to have the units installed.

The system aims to reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian crossing into the path of another train, by delivering a voice message to alert those using the crossing that a second train is coming.

The voice message units activate when another train is approaching, delivering the warning: “Another Train Approaching. Do Not Cross”.

Mr Cook says some pedestrians cross after the first train has passed without realising that there might be another train approaching from the other direction.
“The project is part of KiwiRail’s commitment to put safety first,” he says.

The Tawa crossing had been chosen because there was already a second train detection system in place.

TrackSAFE NZ Foundation Manager Megan Drayton says the initiative is an exciting development which could help to prevent level crossing accidents. 

“We know that people sometimes behave unsafely around railway tracks, due to distraction and other human factors,” she says.  “Any device that can further alert people to the presence of a second train will be a welcome addition to safety at level crossings.”

However Ms Drayton says that the public should remember that the best way to stay safe around railway tracks is to always obey the existing signs and signals that are there to warn of a train or trains approaching.  “Always look both ways for trains before crossing the tracks and only cross at designated level crossings,” she says.

Mr Cook says once the system had been up and running for a while it would be evaluated with a view to rolling it out across the country. Similar systems were used in the United States and United Kingdom, he said.

Work on installing the units is expected to start this weekend (June 25).  Read more

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