Campaign launches as one in seven drivers misuses level crossings daily
Posted byJennifer Bollen
Network Rail has launched a national campaign to reduce the number of incidents involving drivers at level crossings.
The campaign follows Network Rail research revealing an alarming one in seven drivers would misuse a level crossing. The respondents said they would not wait for the barrier or gate to open at a level crossing before driving over the tracks.
Six people have lost their lives in vehicles at level crossings in Britain in the past five years alone, with many more injured.
About 46 incidents involving vehicles take place at level crossings across the country every week.
The campaign aims to reach drivers and change behaviours through targeted radio advertising and social media content.
Lack of knowledge
The study, carried out by researcher Populus on behalf of Network Rail, shows a lack of knowledge may be to blame. About a third of UK drivers said they had never been taught how to use a level crossing, leaving them more likely to be unaware of the dangers and more likely to take risks.
Britain has the safest rail network in Europe but level crossings are among the biggest public safety risks – there are about 3,800 public and private road crossings across Network Rail’s 20,000 miles of track.
The study revealed nearly half of the drivers surveyed (45 per cent) felt their passengers were their biggest distraction while driving. The thought of arriving late also distracted 30 per cent, with exams or a hospital appointment also among the top reasons for failing to wait.
The research also showed one in nine drivers would go straight over a level crossing if they had checked the train timetable and believed no train was coming. This is extremely dangerous because freight trains or other trains not listed on the public timetable often pass through level crossings at speeds of up to 100mph.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, said: “It’s clear that there is a lack of knowledge around how dangerous railway crossings can be. We are seeing drivers take risks at level crossings every day - putting themselves and others in danger. Nothing is worth risking your life over, just to save a few minutes of time.
“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need drivers to obey the law at level crossings. By staying behind the barrier until it is safe to cross and paying attention to the warnings at level crossings, we can all keep ourselves and those in our vehicles out of harm’s way.”
To help increase awareness of the dangers at level crossings, Network Rail is partnering with British Transport Police to remind drivers of the dangers of not following the safety instructions at a level crossing. The campaign focuses on all drivers, working with specific groups such as van and delivery drivers to raise awareness of what can happen if you ignore the warnings.
ALWAYS follow instructions on signs and obey audible and visual warnings of approaching trains
ALWAYS be prepared to stop and REMEMBER that there might be more than one train coming
NEVER drive through red lights or around barriers, they are there to protect you
If you are unsure how to cross safely, use the telephone (if one is provided) or find an alternative route
NEVER drive onto a level crossing unless your exit is clear