KiwiRail and TrackSAFE are urging people to be like Steely Stan – and take a good hard look for trains when approaching any rail level crossing.
As part of Rail Safety Week 2023, role model Steely Stan will champion taking a good look to both the left and the right before crossing, with the campaign phrase, ‘Steely Stare. Steely Stare. All clear’.
In the year to 30 June, 40 vehicles or people collided with trains across the national rail network and there were 305 near misses.
At public level crossings alone, there were 11 collisions and 192 near misses. Near misses at level crossings have steadily increased since a low of 150 in 2021. All of the collisions at level crossings and 77 per cent of near misses were at crossings that already have active protection.
“Collisions with trains are unforgiving. The average freight train weighs well over 1,000 tonnes and cannot swerve to avoid a person or vehicle or stop quickly. Our locomotive engineers can blow the horn and put on the emergency brakes, but there is often little else they can do,” KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says.
“Sadly, 10 people lost their lives in collisions with trains over the past year. At the same time, it’s very worrying to see near misses at level crossings continue to rise. One second more and a near miss could be a collision – resulting in serious injury or death. People just can’t afford to take that risk.
"It’s also deeply troubling to see that all of the collisions and close to 80 per cent of near misses at level crossings were at crossings that already have flashing lights, bells or barrier arms.
“It’s so important that all of us are cautious and vigilant any time we approach a rail level crossing. For this year’s Rail Safety Week campaign, we’re promoting a simple behaviour that will keep people safe - taking a proper look in either direction, a ‘steely stare’ and not just a fleeting glance, when you approach a level crossing.”
TrackSAFE NZ Foundation Manager Megan Drayton said though there was a light-hearted aspect to this year’s Rail Safety Week campaign, the message was very serious.
“This is about saving people’s lives. The increasing number of near misses at level crossings and the fact that a greater proportion of collisions are at level crossings that already have active protection is a real cause for concern.
“It shows us that some motorists and pedestrians are either still being complacent or are taking unnecessary risks.
“In today’s high-pressure environment, we know people can switch off at more grim warnings. Behavioural science tells us people are more likely to do the right thing when they are being watched. This is why we are introducing a new role model for this year’s Rail Safety Week.
“Steely Stan will demonstrate the correct behaviour around crossings, and then keep a ‘helpful’ eye on everyone. He’s promoting a simple message: ‘Steely Stare. Steely Stare. All clear.”
Rail Safety Week runs from Monday 7 August to Sunday 13 August 2023.
It is coordinated by KiwiRail and TrackSAFE in close partnership with Waka Kotahi, NZ Police, Auckland Transport, Auckland One Rail, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Transdev Wellington, councils and supporting organisations and schools throughout New Zealand.
More information about the Rail Safety Week 2023 campaign is available at:
View the campaign video here: https://youtu.be/RkE5bUJln0s,