New Zealand Observes Rail Safety Week

The Northern Explorer prepares to leave Auckland, New Zealand, in December 2017. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

New Zealand authorities are urging people to pay attention around train tracks and level crossings to stay safe.

The reminder comes as New Zealand Police and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency observe Rail Safety Week.

“This is a good time to remind people to pay attention around train tracks,” Inspector Peter McKennie, manager of operations for the National Road Policing Centre, said in a news release. “The same way you check for cars when you cross a road, when you cross railway tracks you should always check for trains.

“Unfortunately, some people are complacent about crossing railway tracks,” McKennie added. “They are looking at their phone, have headphones in or are simply not paying attention as they step out onto the tracks. Others deliberately cross despite the warning signals. As well as risking their own lives, this can lead to copycat behaviour by young children with devastating outcomes.”

Much like in the United States, not every rail crossing has bells and lights.

Since 2013, 110 people have been hit and killed by trains and 68 people have been seriously injured in the country.

“Every one of these deaths and serious injuries has a devastating impact on families and on our communities,” says Greg Lazzaro, Waka Kotahi General Manager Safety, Health and Environment. “We also can’t ignore the significant impact of near misses – last year there were 320 near misses – that’s almost one a day and any one of them could have resulted in a fatality.

“Near misses with trains can be reduced if people stay alert and comply with signs and signals in place to help you cross safely,” Lazzaro added. “It’s vital when you’re around trains, tracks and level crossings to take notice of your surroundings and cross with care.”

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