New Zealand: New analysis shows 40% of crossing accidents involve inattention

11 Dec

Inattention has been shown to be the major factor in more than 40% of serious and fatal injury collisions between vehicles and trains at railway level crossings.

The finding comes from a new analysis of five years’ of crash data taken from the NZ Transport Agency Crash Analysis System involving incidents between 2010 and 2014.

KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy says that a nationwide safety campaign launched today by KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ will remind New Zealanders to stay alert at level crossings over the holiday period.

“While people are heading off on holidays, the trains are still working hard.  If you’re enjoying your drive – please stay ‘switched on’ and focused.

“When approaching railway tracks, always obey the signs and make sure your exit is clear before you cross the tracks,” he says.

Pedestrians are also reminded to act safely around the rail corridor this holiday season.  There have been more than 250 reports this year of people illegally crossing railway tracks and around 60 of these were classified as a near miss.

“People should only cross tracks at designated pedestrian level crossings, where there are warning signs and signals to help people cross safely.

“Trains are quiet, they move faster than they appear, and they take a long time to stop.  In Auckland and Wellington in particular, the new electric trains are quiet, and often people do not hear them approaching.”

TrackSAFE NZ Manager Megan Drayton says that so far this year there have been 11 vehicle collisions at public road level crossings.  Last year there were 18 vehicle level crossing collisions.

She says while it’s pleasing to see a decline in the number of such collisions and no fatalities, she warns people not to become complacent.

“If you see railway tracks, assume there will be a train.  No matter how well you know the level crossing, trains can come at any time and from either direction,” she says.

Megan says train drivers are also hoping for a collision-free holiday period.  “Train drivers and their families are also victims in railway collisions and near misses.  We want to keep them safe this holiday period as well,” she says.

The safety campaign involves nationwide newspaper and radio advertising and social media promotion urging people to switch off at their holiday destinations, not at level crossings.

3 Responses to “New Zealand: New analysis shows 40% of crossing accidents involve inattention”

  1. andrewfraser2015 December 11, 2015 at 15:41 #

    Inattention? Would that be because the person involved made a conscious decision that led to lower attentional capacity, or the person involved allocated attention in a reasonable manner given the context and what was possible at the time? These aren’t my questions, of course, because I am not an expert. However, I am not so stupid as not to realise that these are very important questions indeed, and that we’re not going to get anywhere until we start getting answers to them. (Easier just to blame the user, however, mount yet another campaign, and wring our hands after it fails.)

    • aidannelson December 11, 2015 at 17:09 #

      This magnitude reads across to wider road safety risk. There is a need to reduce distracting factors while driving if we are to reduce road accidents generally. It isn’t a case of blaming the user, rather it is an imperative to better understand routes by which inattention and underpinning distraction factors might be reduced. Meanwhile, education and proportionate enforcement action is appropriate, including when inattention is a significant causal factor in level crossing and other road accidents.

      • andrewfraser2015 December 11, 2015 at 17:16 #

        The trouble here in the Scotland (if not the entire UK) is that education has not been shown to work, and enforcement involves the “principle” of strict liability – so it cannot be “proportionate”. The law does not care … and neither, apparently does the Transport Select Committee.

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