Remarkably, an increasing number of drivers are taking illegal and dangerous risks at level crossings. Network Rail has said near-misses with trains increased from 140 in 2009 to 161 last year – a jump of 15%.
Thursday 9 June was International Level Crossing Awareness Day and the AA took the opportunity to warn drivers against playing Russian Roulette on crossings.
Those who flout the law and ignore the crossing signs can expect action to be taken against them.
Paul Brogden, British Transport Police
The number of near-misses involving pedestrians and trains rose from 270 in 2009 to 297 last year.
Pedestrians crossed when unsafe to do so on 768 further occasions, and road vehicles an additional 748 times.
Though near misses are up, collisions between road vehicles and trains fell from 14 in 2009 to seven last year, and deaths from 13 to four over the same period.
Total incidents of recorded misuse at levels crossings rose from 3,244 in 2009 to 3,446 last year.
The AA and AA DriveTech are working with the British Transport Police on an ongoing basis to raise awareness of the dangers of drivers taking risks at level crossings.
On 9 June the British Transport Police had officers stationed at crossings throughout the day to enforce the law and provide advice to motorists.
According to Edmund King, AA President, "Drivers are playing Russian Roulette with their own lives and the lives of others by ignoring crossing warning signs."
Incredibly some people are still putting their lives on the line by ignoring warning lights and sirens and trying to dash through crossings when trains are approaching. This is hugely irresponsible and dangerous and British Transport Police will not hesitate to take action against anyone caught doing so.
British Transport Police Superintendent for operations, Paul Brogden reminds motorists and pedestrians that "Level crossings – and other crossings where road, footpaths and rail cross – are designed to keep people safe. And, when used correctly, that is exactly what they do. But, as the figures suggest, when people ignore the warnings, there can be fatal consequences.
"We will continue to work closely with the local police forces and Network Rail to improve knowledge and, where necessary, to take action against those who continue to misuse crossings.
"Those who flout the law and ignore the crossing signs can expect action to be taken against them."
British Transport Police are working with AA DriveTech to offer educational courses to marginal offenders. However, the more serious offenders can expect a fine and points on their driving licence, or court.
The AA DriveTech level crossing awareness course is designed to change driving behaviour by giving motorists a fuller understanding of the dangers and potential consequences of failing to comply with level crossing signals.
David Richards, from AA DriveTech, reminds drivers that "level crossings are one of the few places where one motorist's decisions can affect the safety of many, many people."
9 June 2011