Looking twice at train tracks may save your life

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 14, 2018

Look right, look left, look for trains. That‘s the message NZ Police and the NZ Transport Agency are supporting this Rail Safety Week, and it could save your life.

“We will be supporting the week by spreading the message to look first before you cross train tracks,” says inspector Peter McKennie, operations manager: road policing.

It only takes a few seconds, and those few seconds could save your life, because trains can come from both directions on one set of tracks.

“Whether you‘re a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver, you need to look twice in both directions, as well as listen for trains.

“Just as red light running is dangerous, so is trying to race the bells, lights, or barrier arms. A train can‘t stop suddenly, but if you take that few extra seconds to look both ways it could save your life,” says McKennie.

“As a driver it‘s important to ensure there is plenty of clear space on the other side of the train tracks for your vehicle, and any long load you‘re carrying or trailer you‘re towing, before you drive over the crossing.”

McKennie says as a pedestrian, only cross at designated crossing points.

“You might have to walk a little further, but these crossing points are designed and located to maximise safety. Also consider people with less risk awareness, such as children, who may copy your unsafe behaviour with tragic consequences.”

Harry Wilson, NZTA director safety and environment, says 107 people have been killed in railway incidents since 2012. So far this year, 14 people have lost their lives.

“Every one of those fatal collisions is a tragedy. Imagine the impact this has had on the loved ones of those who have died, and on the train drivers who were unable to avoid the collision.

“Looking for trains is a simple action but it‘s not being done every time people cross railway tracks.”

Wilson says often people are distracted or too complacent and forget trains can‘t stop quickly, and they can’t deviate from their course.

“Sometimes there might even be two trains. If a train has passed or is stopped at a station, you still need to check both ways to make sure another train isn‘t coming. Two tracks may mean there is a second train,” says Wilson.

 For more information visit: www.tracksafe.co.nz/media/rail-safety-week