Friday 14 Jul 2017
VIDEO: New technology introduced as near misses involving children at South East level crossings expected to rise over the summer holidays
- South East
New figures from Network Rail reveal that young people are more likely to have a near miss at a level crossing during the summer, when lighter nights and the summer holidays mean they will be outdoors for longer.
Many of them will simply be distracted when crossing the railway, either by their friends, their phones or their cameras. To help combat the issue of distraction at level crossings, Network Rail and British Transport Police are introducing geo- targeting at a number of level crossings where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk.
The system will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.
One of the crossings targeted is Simpson’s foot crossing, near Sittingbourne, where this video was taken using CCTV earlier this year. The young people in the footage were identified and the dangers of their actions explained to them by Network Rail community safety manager Nicola Dooris.
She said: “Many young people simply don’t think about the dangers of the railway and parents will know how difficult it is to drag their kids away from their phones or other tech. Those two factors together mean that we have a constant battle to get through to children to help them stay out of danger. Anything parents can do to help us could make all the difference.”
New data has revealed that over two thirds (70 per cent) of near misses are due to distraction, with the top three distractions at level crossings highlighted as friends (40 per cent), headphones (20 per cent) and mobile phones (12 per cent). Almost a third (29%) of young adults admit to using their mobile phone while crossing the railway. A huge 95 per cent of under 25 year olds report owning a smart phone and spend twice the amount of time on their mobile than the average user.
Locations in the South East where the geo-targeting message will be broadcast are:
- Dibley’s foot crossing, Chartham , near Canterbury in Kent
- Glebe Way foot crossing, Whitstable, Kent
- Whitehall Road, level crossing, Canterbury, Kent
- Simpson’s foot crossing, Sittingbourne, Kent
- Teynham West foot crossing, near Faversham, Kent
- Red Lane Holland, foot crossing, Oxted, Surrey
- Rushford’s foot crossing, Lingfield, Surrey
- Bourneview foot crossing, Kenley, Surrey
- Warnham foot crossing, North Horsham, West Sussex
- Stockbridge and Basin Road level crossings, Chichester, West Sussex
Video – how we operate Stockbridge and Basin Road crossings in Chichester
While Britain still has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway. In the last five years there have been more than 2,000 incidents on level
Inspector Becky Warren from British Transport Police (BTP) said: “Level crossings are there to help people cross the railway when it is safe to do so but pedestrians need to pay full attention when they use them.
“Sadly, our officers know the tragedy families are faced with after a loved one is killed at a level crossing. A moment of distraction, be that checking a text or changing a song, can leave devastation and heartbreak for families.
“We regularly conduct operations at level crossings and run events across the country in conjunction with our partners in Network Rail to raise awareness on how to use crossings safely.”
Network Rail’s army of over 100 level crossing and community safety managers will also be raising awareness of rail safety right across the rail network by holding safety events and encouraging young people to stay alert when on the rail network.
To find out more about how to stay safe when using level crossings visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings/
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