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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 8 (January 15, 1927)

Level Crossing Safety Campaign

page 34

Level Crossing Safety Campaign

The Railways of New Zealand fill so important a position in the life of the Dominion that their operations have a bearing upon practically every phase of activity throughout the land. In acknowledgement of its pre-eminence in this respect, and with a full sense of the responsibilities which go with such a position, the Department has made a gesture in the direction of public wel fare which has drawn a unanimous response of hearty appreciation from all parts of New Zealand. The movement referred to has been an intensive campaign by all the best known modes of publicity to educate the public in the dangers associated with the slightest degree of carelessness on the part of road users when negotiating level crossings.

The following are two out of a host of newspaper comments on the subject:—

For some time the Railway Department has been conducting an advertising campaign to bring under the notice of the public, and particularly that part of the public which travels in motor cars, the need for exercising care at railway crossings. It will be remembered that some time ago, following on the heels of a series of motor fatalities at railway crossings, there was a fairly general attack on the Railway Department charging it with responsibility for these mishaps. The argument used against the Department was that the roads were in existence before the railways were introduced, and as the railways crossed the roads the Department should see that the crossings were safe. While undoubtely there is cast on the Department a certain amount of responsibility, it is to be remembered that the railways run on lines, that their course is well defined, and that every user of the road is made aware of the existence of the crossing before he reaches it. When the Department has given the travelling public due warning of the existence of any crossing it has done sufficient. But, in spite of the various methods employed to emphasise these warnings, the careless driver is still caught. The Department's “Safety First” campaign is directed at the cardinal risks of the train and the motor, drawing attention to the fact that the motorist can least afford a collision at a railway crossing, and in his own interests it is therefore necessary that he should exercise due caution, that he should recognise every railway crossing on week days and on Sundays as a potential danger point; in other words he must observe the spirit of the advice the Department has given to him for very many years to “Stop! Look out for the Engine,” at every crossing. It is the driver who fails to observe these reasonable precautions, who takes a risk without thinking of its possible consequences who adds to the toll of level crossing accidents. The Department's campaign is the first and most practical step yet undertaken in connection with the level crossing problem and we think it will be productive of good results.

The Southland “Times”

The danger to life and property which carelessness at railway level crossings entails has, unfortunately, been often emphasised by the series of accidents which have occurred throughout the Dominion. Recognising that the elimination of these crossings is a work of such magnitude that it cannot be accomplished within a brief period, those responsible for the control of railway and motor traffic are alive to the necessity of impressing upon the community its duty in reducing the possibility of accident to a minimum. If the regulations of the Railway Department and the recommendations of the various automobile associations were complied with, the risk of accident would be practically eliminated. In its desire to awaken the motoring public to a sense of its responsibility in this matter, the Railway Department has embarked upon a scheme of publicity in the Press which should do much to educate everyone concerned in the necessity for care in using level crossings. Accidents due to the lack of care may have very farreaching results. Not only does a careless driver expose himself and his vehicle to serious damage, but he may quite easily imperil the lives and property of travellers by train. On more than one occasion when accidents have occurred, it has been by simple good fortune that the holocaust of a wrecked train has not resulted. There is ample evidence that the fear of level crossing accidents constitutes a strain upon engine drivers, a strain that can easily be avoided by the exercise of commonsense by those using the road where it crosses the railway line. The Department in its educational effort is showing its willingness to assist in creating sane public opinion in regard to this peril, and the community will gain considerably if due heed is taken of the warnings issued.

Taranaki “News

page 35