Level crossing collisions

There have been 224 collisions between cars and trains at public road level crossings in New Zealand in the ten years to 15 October 2014.

Road level crossing collisions

On average there are around 22 collisions per year between trains and motor vehicles on public road crossings.

In the past ten years about 11 percent of road level crossing collisions occurred where half-arm barriers plus flashing lights and bells were installed.  33 percent happened where flashing lights and bells were installed.  The remaining collisions occurred at crossings protected by signs alone.

In any 10 year period over 85 percent of road level crossings are collision free.  A small group of "collision black spot" level crossings (those with more than one collision within ten years) are responsible for around 31 percent of all collisions.

Half arm barriers are considered to eliminate around 90 percent of collisions and flashing lights and bells are considered to eliminate about 65 percent of collisions that would have occurred at a crossing if it had been protected by signs alone.

Pedestrian level crossing collisions

Over the past ten years there were 34 collisions between pedestrians and trains at 31 different locations.  This is around 3 collisions per year. 

Approximately 75 percent of pedestrian level crossing collisions occur where automatic alarms are installed.

source: KiwiRail, October

Trespass incidents

Trespassers struck by trains is the leading cause of railway deaths in New Zealand.  From 1994 to 2012, 204 people have died while trespassing on railway tracks. (New Zealand Ministry of Transport data).

A significant number of trespasser deaths are considered to be suicides.


In data collected between 1990 and 2012 from the NZ Transport Agency's Crash Analysis System (CAS) relating to all collisions between motor vehicles and trains at a level crossing:

  • around two thirds of the crashes involved cars or station wagons
  • approximately 15 per cent involved vans or utes, and 8 per cent were trucks
  • 73 per cent of drivers involved in fatal and injury crashes held full drivers' licences
  • of these drivers, around 72 per cent were male
  • the highest represented group in level crossing collisions is men aged between 40-59
  • women aged over 60 are the least likely group to be involved in a level crossing collision

Interesting facts:

  • most collisions occur during daylight hours and in fine weather
  • collisions at night occur when motorists drive into the side of a train
  • a significant number of collisions occur within a close proximity of a person's home
  • around 11 per cent of all collisions happen at crossings with barrier arms

The majority of collisions occur because the driver has made a mistake (didn't look or failed to see the train) or because they thought they could beat the train over the crossing.

More statistical information can be found on the Ministry of Transport website.

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Switch off on the beach

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ have launched a new summer rail safety campaign with a message to motorists to stay focused and always look for trains at level crossings over the holidays.   Read more

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