Both police and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency are urging motorists to remain actively aware of the risks of level crossings this Rail Safety Week.
This year's campaign, which is on this week, focuses on encouraging motorists to remain aware of the risks railways pose, particularly during the morning when vehicle collisions are most likely to occur.
Whanganui has 19 level crossings within the bounds of the city, many of which are on main thoroughfares such as Purnell, Guyton, Liverpool and Glasgow streets, as well as the northernmost point of Victoria Ave.
Over the past 10 years, 163 people have died on the New Zealand rail network, and 54 of those people lost their lives at level crossings.
In the Whanganui/Manawatū region, three people have been killed at level crossings in recent years, including an incident in May when a line painter was killed at a level crossing near Marton.
Prior to that, in September last year a schoolbus driver was killed when the vehicle collided with a train at a level crossing in Bunnythorpe, near Palmerston North.
Earlier in 2019, a man was killed after being struck by a freight train in Brunswick.
Waka Kotahi chief executive Nicole Rosie said the impact of these crashes on families and communities was enormous.
"These are not statistics, they are real people who didn't make it home to their whanau. Many more have been seriously injured from level crossing crashes, often left dealing with life-long debilitating injuries.
"And beyond all of them is a larger community – of families, friends, colleagues, employees, witnesses, first responders, locomotive engineers – all affected in some way."
Rosie says that Waka Kotahi was working alongside police and KiwiRail to improve safety at level crossings.
According to the government department, 36 level crossings have been upgraded over the last three years, with the installation of better signage, barrier arms, flashing lights and bells.