New Zealand exposes fools at level crossings with chilling campaign

By MiNDFOOD

Each white cross denotes a particular incident where someone escaped a brush with death. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ
Each white cross denotes a particular incident where someone escaped a brush with death. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ
White crosses are popping up at Kiwi level crossings "in memory" of those foolish or oblivious enough to risk being killed by an oncoming train.

New Zealand has devised a genius but chilling “near-misses” campaign to stop people risking their lives on train tracks and level crossings.

A campaign between KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ has led to white crosses being installed at several locations across the country “in memory” of those who were either oblivious or foolish enough to dice with death.

Pedestrians with a cross to bear

Each cross denotes a particular incident where a person or vehicle came within inches of colliding with an oncoming train.

One of the most chilling incidents involved a mother pushing a child in her pram as the train approached. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ
One of the most chilling incidents involved a mother pushing her child’s stroller across the tracks as the train approached. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ

The crosses also have a QR code which, when scanned by a smartphone, plays a video clip of the near-miss in question.

Passers-by can watch a clip of the incident in question by scanning the QR code. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ
Passers-by can watch a clip of the incident in question by scanning the QR code. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ

In the 12 months to June 2019 there were over 415 near-misses between people, vehicles and trains across New Zealand – equating to more than one a day.

299 of them were at level crossings.

The impact of near-misses

The powerful campaign is not only aimed at discouraging people from following in the footsteps of those who got lucky, but also to raise awareness of the impact these near-misses have on train drivers.

The driver of this car deliberately drove around the barriers to play chicken with a speeding train in the West Auckland suburb of Henderson. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ
The driver of this car deliberately drove around the barriers to play chicken with a speeding train in the West Auckland suburb of Henderson. KIWIRAIL/TRACKSAFE NZ

KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said, “these close calls are happening daily and they take a huge toll on our locomotive engineers and everyone involved.

“In a lot of cases people are missing death or serious injury by seconds. It is often just luck that they are not killed.

“Although no one gets physically hurt in a near-miss, the driver, other rail staff, witnesses and of course the pedestrian or motorist all experience a level of trauma.”

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