Distracted pedestrians targeted in new rail safety campaign

16 Aug 2016, 11:00 AM

Media Release - TrackSAFE Foundation New Zealand

A new campaign aimed at reminding people to stay alert and cross carefully at railway level crossings is being launched by Transport Minister Hon Simon Bridges at the Wellington Railway Station on Monday morning.

The campaign has been developed as part of Rail Safety Week, a national week aimed at raising awareness of safe behaviour around railway tracks.

People forget that when they approach a crossing they’re taking a risk. They get used to signage and become overly familiar with the area.  Complacency and distractions like cellphones and headphones mean that people often don’t consciously check for trains, Tracksafe Manager Megan Drayton says.

KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says this year’s campaign has been developed as a result of an increasing trend in incidents involving pedestrians, particularly at urban level crossings.

“What we are seeing, from data from collisions and near collisions as well as reports from our train drivers and CCTV footage, is that people are failing to take due care when crossing at level crossings.

“Sometimes people cross the tracks after a train has passed but while the alarms are still operating.  What they don’t seem to realise is that there is often a train coming from the other direction.

There are also a number of incidents involving people wearing headphones and using mobile technology around crossings.  We are urging people this year to stay focused and alert at level crossings, and to put their devices in their pockets at any time they are around the rail network.“

KiwiRail are releasing a video clip on Monday via TrackSAFE’s social media platforms encouraging pedestrians to change their approach at level crossings.
It was filmed at the Epuni pedestrian crossing in Lower Hutt, Wellington, a site which has had a number of near misses with pedestrians and cyclists.

By installing a number of moveable rail guards in the lead up to the crossing, pedestrians had to navigate a different approach each day. They were then interviewed to discuss whether the change made them pay attention and switch on.

“The more familiar we are with an environment, the less attention we tend to give it.  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 alert mind is a safe mind. We encourage everyone to change their approach to crossings and avoid distractions.“

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 Transdev Wellington. 

For further information about Rail Safety Week see www.tracksafe.co.nz