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Crashes spark rail crossing reminder

Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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KiwiRail and police have renewed their calls for vigilance around level crossings this summer after a spate of crashes in the nor-west.

The third serious crash between trains and cars in about three months in the Kumeu district claimed the life of Ronald Charles Murphy of Coatesville.

The 73-year-old was killed when the ute he was driving collided with a freight train at a Waimauku level crossing on December 12.

Mr Murphy, the vehicle's sole occupant, died at the Joyce Adams Place crossing on State Highway 16.

Police are investigating the crash in conjunction with KiwiRail.

It marks the third death and fifth serious incident on Auckland's rail network in the past few months.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn reminds motorists to obey the warning signs and always ensure the line is clear of trains before entering a crossing.

While not all level crossings have barrier arms, stop or give way signs are always in place. Police urge motorists to treat the signs like they would at any normal road intersection.

"Stop means stop," Waitemata Police road policing manager Inspector Mark Fergus says.

The school holidays are a busy time. Children may be yelling in the backseat or drivers might be trying to remember what they need to buy at the shops.

"All it takes is one moment's distraction and your life can change forever," he says.

"Take a second look as you approach that level crossing."

Last year, 18 collisions involved vehicles at level crossings - three of them fatal.

Safety messages about level crossings may seem obvious but every year motorists or their passengers are killed or injured driving through them.

Distracted drivers and lack of consideration of warning signs are the main contributing factors, Mr Fergus says.

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- Norwest News

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