First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
One in seven UK drivers would drive over a level crossing before the barrier or gate has opened, according to new research.
Research agency Populus carried out a study on behalf of Network Rail which reveals six UK drivers have been killed at level crossings in the last five years.
There are also around 46 incidents every week in the UK involving vehicles at level crossings – a third of which are caused by lorries, followed by cars at 28%.
According to the report, one in nine drivers would go over a level crossing if they had checked the train timetable and believed there was no train coming.
Populus believes these incidents may be caused by a ‘lack of knowledge’ as 31% of UK drivers say they have never been taught how to use a level crossing.
Nearly half of the 1,613 drivers which took part in the study feel their passengers are the main cause of distraction. Also, the worry of arriving late to a destination distracts 30% of drivers, with exams or hospital appointments being the main reasons for not waiting at a level crossing.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, says drivers are taking risks at level crossings every day.
“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,” Spence adds.
Network Rail’s ‘multi-billion’ investment plan is expected to provide the citizens across the UK with more frequent and faster journeys by 2021.
Network Rail and the British Transport Police are launching a national safety campaign to highlight the dangers of not following safety instructions at level crossings.
Becky Warren, inspector from British Transport Police, says drivers travelling over a level crossing when the lights come on or when the barriers start to come down will be prosecuted.
The partnership will hold safety events and encourage people to stay alert and avoid distractions when using a level crossing.
Network Rail says drivers should always follow instructions on signs and obey audible and visual warnings of approaching trains. They must always be prepared to stop and remember there may be more than one train coming. Drivers can use a telephone provided at some level crossings to obtain advice on how to cross safely.