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Focus on rail crossing risk

GEOFF DOBSON
Last updated 09:08 14/08/2014
taupaki crash
CROSSING CARNAGE: A woman and three children were lucky to escape this crash alive at the Taupaki railway crossing. The crossing had one fatality years earlier.

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Too many near misses

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A near miss with a train at a level crossing happens every three days on average.

And the northern line through Rodney is one of the worst in the country.

"A near miss can also be seen as a near hit. It's just not worth taking the risk which is why this year's focus for Rail Safety Week is on level crossings," Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

All drivers, cyclists and pedestrians should stay alert, he says.

Police are doing spot checks at problem areas and are even riding in train cabs to get a first hand view.

Sixteen crashes with vehicles and cyclists, five deaths, and 68 near collisions have been reported this year. Not all near misses are recorded, KiwiRail says.

Train drivers report many instances of motorists ignoring flashing lights and bells, or driving through level crossings with Give Way or Stop signs just ahead of their train.

The northern region has had 28 near misses this year, one behind the southern region.

The northern line had 220 near collisions from 2009-13, the most across New Zealand.

There were 18 collisions nationally and three deaths last year.

Five collisions involving people walking or crossing the tracks have been recorded this year. One was fatal and there were 65 near misses.

A TrackSAFE study in 2010 found 76 per cent of near collisions were at crossings with either flashing lights and bells, or barrier arms.

KiwiRail recorded 107 near collisions last year, 43 per cent at crossings with flashing lights and bells and 40 per cent with barrier arms.

Visit kiwirail.co.nz/rsw2014.html for more information on Rail Safety Week.

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- Rodney Times

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