Wednesday 3 Oct 2018
CCTV shows distracted drivers risking their lives at a level crossing as one in ten drivers in Anglia say they wont wait over five minutes
CCTV footage released by Network Rail today shows the impact of being distracted at level crossings as new research reveals that one in ten drivers in Anglia would wait no more than five minutes at the barriers. In the last five years, there has been an increase in the number of near misses at level crossings on Anglia's rail network.
Every week around 46 incidents involving vehicles take place at level crossings across the country; lorries are the most common specific vehicle type involved (32 per cent), with cars the second most common (28 per cent).
CCTV footage released today shows that distraction is a factor, as several cars ignore the warning lights at a crossing in Enfield and attempt to cross without checking that the exit is clear. This results in cars piling up on the crossing with some cars failing to exit the yellow box, which marks the danger zone of the crossing, as the barriers lower.
A study, by Populus on behalf of Network Rail, revealed that in the Anglia region, over a third of drivers (37 per cent) felt their passengers were their biggest distraction while driving. Over a quarter (28 per cent), blamed children in the car or being late as the top reasons for not waiting at a level crossing.
The survey also showed a lack of knowledge may be to blame, with over a quarter of drivers in Anglia reporting they have never been taught how to use a level crossing (26 per cent), leaving them less likely to be aware of the dangers and more likely to take risks.
Incidents like this are common across the Anglia network. British Transport Police report that a total of 521 offences have been investigated in B Division East, which covers the Anglia region, over the last year. These include jumping the red lights, waiting in the yellow box and overtaking on double white lines to get around waiting traffic.
Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of safety for Anglia, 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 and out of the yellow box, 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 on a national safety campaign targeted at drivers to remind them 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.
Inspector Stephen Webster from British Transport Police said: “In the Anglia region we have a number of tactics to prevent offences, including camera vehicles, uniformed and plain clothes officers and vehicles. There have been a large number of prosecutions this year which included people who enter the crossing whilst lights are flashing, remain in a yellow box on the crossing, overtake on double white line systems, perform dangerous manoeuvres over level crossings and fail to follow safety instructions at user worked crossings. These prosecutions have resulted in some hefty penalties being handed down by the courts. Rest assured, we will continue to monitor crossings and follow up with drivers after any offences reported to us. CCTV is also in operation at most crossings and we use this to detect drivers following late reports”
Network Rail’s level crossing and community safety managers will continue to work with British Transport Police officers and raise awareness of level crossing safety across the rail network. They will hold safety events, and encourage people to stay alert and avoid distractions when using a level crossing.
- 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
To find out more about level crossing safety visit www.networkrail.co.uk/drivers
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.