Differential safety liability of road and rail
Rail safety is closely controlled, but there is less supervision of the actual road, its construction and condition. Safety is the responsibility of the road user, not the provider. This is a feature of the common law, including the rule that no liability attaches to road omissions, and of legislation governing road and rail. It has its roots in the many centuries of highway development. New Zealand legislation has few safety duties for road owners, but very comprehensive and strict obligations for railways. This is also true internationally, except that in some jurisdictions there are enhanced controls on road. Health and safety laws may not cover the public safety aspects of roads, but they do cover all aspects of railways. The imbalance increases the cost and reduces the effectiveness of rail. Potential reforms of the law are proposed.