New safety campaign addresses complacency
New Zealanders are being reminded to ’Expect Trains’ in a new nationwide campaign being launched by Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges at the Wellington Railway Station tomorrow morning as part of Rail Safety Week.
The campaign aims to heighten the awareness of motorists and pedestrians at level crossings, with the message that people should expect trains at any time and from either direction.
KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says this year’s campaign is a multi-agency initiative aimed at reducing incidents and preventing harm.
“Every year people die in preventable accidents on railway tracks. We are reminding people that their own awareness and responsible behaviour is the key to keeping themselves and their children safe around railway tracks.
“Collisions and near misses cause severe and lasting trauma for everyone involved,” says Mr Reidy. “This includes victims, their families, emergency services personnel and witnesses, and our train drivers and rail staff. “
An additional, site specific, awareness campaign is also being launched by the NZ Transport Agency during this year’s Rail Safety Week. The campaign aims to improve driver behaviour at rural and semi-rural level crossings throughout the country.
Chief Executive of the NZ Transport Agency Geoff Dangerfield says the campaign is based on research undertaken late last year that indicated that local drivers in rural areas are often complacent, especially around those level crossings controlled by Stop and Give Way signs.
“We want to get local drivers off autopilot when they approach railway tracks and to accept that crossing railway tracks safely means giving it their full attention.”
The campaign involves a locomotive-sized billboard and associated signage being placed near and in the approach to a level crossing. The life-sized locomotive billboard aims to prompt drivers to slow down and check for trains as they approach level crossings. The first site for the signage will be a rural level crossing in Carterton, before it is progressively moved to other higher risk level crossing sites throughout New Zealand.
TrackSAFE Manager Megan Drayton says other research has shown that people are unable to accurately judge the speed and distance of an oncoming train and often perceive trains to be travelling slower than they actually are.
“This is why it’s really important for people to follow basic safety rules at any level crossing. When people see a railway level crossing sign they must slow down and be prepared to stop. Look up and down both ways and only cross when there are no trains coming from either direction,” Ms Drayton says.
“People need to treat a railway level crossing in the same way as they would a road intersection – always obey the flashing lights and bells, or the Give Way or Stop signs at the level crossing.”
Rail Safety Week is coordinated by KiwiRail in close partnership with TrackSAFE NZ, the Transport Agency, NZ Police, Auckland Transport, Transdev Auckland, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Tranz Metro.