Call for action at level crossings

Train Incident Doncaster
Train Incident Doncaster
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The crossing at Beech Hill is one of 6,500 level crossings in Britain - protecting people from one of the busiest rail networks in the world.

But accidents happen, most often when drivers and pedestrians do not use them properly.

Spending time on the internet provides clips on YouTube of near misses where trains have almost collided with vehicles or people.

In 2009, 13 people died on British railway lines and 145 motorists – almost three a week – narrowly avoided potentially fatal collisions with a train. There were over 3,200 incidents of misuse at level crossings that year, which shows the scale of the problem.

Network Rail has called on the Government to do more to curb unsafe driving by motorists at level crossings.

The company running the tracks wants the driving theory test to include compulsory questions on level crossings to enforce learner drivers’ understanding of the Highway Code and reduce risky driving behaviour, such as driving around barriers and running red lights as trains approach.

Network Rail calculates that up to 95 per cent of incidents at level crossings are down to motorist or pedestrian misuse or error.

A spokesman said: “Motorists are too often playing Russian roulette with a 200-tonne train - and tragically some lose their lives gambling at level crossings by running red lights or dodging around barriers.

“We are confident that lives will be saved if motorists learn how to safely-use level crossings from the day they pass their test.”

Andrew Howard, AA head of road safety, said: “Level crossings are one of the few places where one motorist’s irresponsibility can affect the safety of many people.

“Motorists must be aware of the rules, which are simple, logical and well signed. The risk in trying to save two minutes jumping a level crossing just isn’t worth it.”

The worst level crossing accident in recent years was in November 2004 when seven people died after a London to Plymouth high-speed train hit a car that had been driven on to a crossing at Ufton Nervet in Berkshire.