Crossing crackdown: Van and truck drivers targeted by emergency services

Police and Network Rail employees check traffic at Bentley level crossing.
Police and Network Rail employees check traffic at Bentley level crossing.
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Van and truck drivers who try to ‘beat the barriers’ and red lights on Doncaster’s railway crossings have been targeted in a campaign aimed at saving lives.

Network Rail staff, railway police and fire officers joined forces in an international awareness programme targeting ‘professional’ motorists who drive for a living, and who are responsible for a fifth of near-misses on Britain’s level crossings.

Yesterday’s event focused on three crossings in the Bentley area – one next to Bentley station and Dock Hills and Moat Hills, near Ings Road.

Police took the registration number of one car that went through the Cooke Street crossing when the lights were on red and the driver will be receiving a notice of intended prosecution through the post. Bentley crossing has more than 3,000 vehicles a day and 149 trains a day pass at up to 100mph

All drivers stopped at the crossings and pedestrians were given leaflets entitled ‘The Most Important Stop of the Day’ but the awareness day was mostly aimed at reducing the number of incidents at level crossings involving people who are paid to drive. Officers on the operation at Bentley said they had had ‘positive feedback’ from drivers, especially those of lorries who said they often witness other motorists trying to go through on red.

Network Rail say level crossings in Britain are among the safest in Europe but almost a fifth of the 142 near-misses that occurred at level crossings in 2013 included a vehicle driven in a professional capacity – such as a lorry, van, bus or taxi –putting the life of the driver as well as others at risk.

Their 100 level crossing managers, who are based all over the country, are also engaging with local firms who employ a lot of drivers.

The programme launch coincides with ILCAD – International Level Crossing Awareness Day – a global initiative supported by 45 countries to raise public awareness on safety factors and dangers posed by misuse at level crossings.

Liz Reedy, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: “The plan is to go to our most heavily used crossings with staff and volunteers who will speak with motorists and pedestrians about the importance of level crossing safety.

“The crossings we have chosen are used a lot by heavy haulage vehicles and are close to large businesses and industrial units, so we plan to visit as many of these businesses on the day to help get the message out.”

Level crossings in the Doncaster area have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons over the past 18 months, with four-year-old Emma Lifsey killed by a passenger train at Misson Springs, near Bawtry, in late 2012 when her grandmother, Diane Jarrett, did not see the red lights because she was dazzled by sun.

In other incidents there has already been successful prosecution of drivers for careless or dangerous driving at level crossings.

A Rossington driver found guilty of dangerous driving lost his licence for 12 months and will need to take an extended test in order to get it back, and another driver who allegedly smashed into barriers at Rossington before hitting parked cars is being prosecuted.