What must you do when red lights are flashing at a railway level crossing? What must you do when red lights are flashing at a railway level crossing?

  • A. Check both directions and cross if there are no trains coming

  • B. Stop until the lights stop flashing

  • C. Drive on as soon as the train has passed

    The correct answer is B
    Even if a train has already passed, there may still be another train coming.

Red lights at railway level crossings

A red light at a railway level crossing always means stop. A railway level crossing is where a railway crosses either a public or private road at the same level as the road as opposed to over a bridge or through a tunnel.

There are over 3000 crossings in New Zealand, but only half of them have any kind of control.

Once the lights have stopped flashing, check up and down the line, then proceed as long as there's enough room on the other side of the crossing. 

Don't try to beat a train across a crossing; their large size hides their speed, and it can take a large train over a kilometre to stop. The average train driver could experience around 30 near misses a year from cars and pedestrians trying to beat the barriers and lights. It's estimated that people underestimate the speed of a train by up to 20kph because of its size (it's the same phenomenon that makes large aircraft seem like they are moving slowly).

This video from Tracksafe Foundation shows how a vehicle can be left stranded across the lines.

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