New figures from Network Rail¹ reveal that young people are more likely to have a near miss at a level crossing during the summer.
Light nights, coupled with the summer holidays, spell danger for Britain’s youth with August and early September seeing near misses at level crossings rise significantly.
Crossings in Haxby (Main Picture) and Strensall are on the list of those where the risk is highest.
Network Rail plan to use Geo-Fencing technology to help. This is where mobile phone use is detected near crossing and safety adverts are fed into social media feeds to advise people to put their phones down if they are about to cross.
Furthermore the new data also reveals 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.
Kirkham Abbey crossing
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 crossings involving young people.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains:
“Many people are aware of the issue of distraction for drivers, but it is very worrying that so many young adults admit to putting themselves at unnecessary risk by getting distracted when crossing the railway.
“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too.
By paying attention to the warnings at level crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm’s way.”
VIDEO – Network Rail film
Foot crossing at Shipton-by-Beninbrough on the East Coast Main Line
To help combat the issue of distraction at level crossings, Network Rail and British Transport Police is embracing new technologies to help reach young people and make them more aware of the dangers.
The rail infrastructure company has produced a series of virtual reality films which can be used to educate children.
They are also introducing geo- fencing at a number of level crossings where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk which will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.
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.”
Level crossing at Malton and Norton
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/