Level crossing campaign targets professional drivers

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Barriers severely damaged after a road/rail collision in Gloucester. NETWORK RAIL
Barriers severely damaged after a road/rail collision in Gloucester. NETWORK RAIL

Rail infrastructure operator makes training material available for bus and coach operators as part of national awareness programme

Network Rail has launched a nationwide awareness programme aimed at reducing the number of incidents at level crossings involving professional drivers. The programme will educate them on the safe use of level crossings.

While level crossings in Britain are among the safest in Europe, almost a fifth of the 142 nearmisses which occurred at level crossings in 2013 included a vehicle driven in a professional capacity – such as a lorry, van, bus or taxi – putting the life of the driver as well as others at risk.

The programme involves Network Rail’s 100 level crossing managers, who are based all over Britain, engaging with local employers whose workforce includes a significant number of drivers.

Julia Territt, Head of Fleet at Network Rail, said: “Safety is our top priority and with one of the biggest fleets of road vehicles in the country, we want our drivers to lead by example. As well as ensuring that drivers are aware of the Highway Code’s requirements on level crossing usage, such as the need to stop at amber lights, we want all professional drivers to be aware that misusing a level crossing not only puts their life at risk but also their livelihood.”

Network Rail (NR) has produced a range of pack materials, which employers can distribute to their drivers and/or include in training packs. It is also working with companies to deliver bespoke interactive presentations and forums, where it will work with drivers to reinforce good level crossing use practice. The sessions will remind drivers that although it may seem an inconvenience to have to wait at a crossing, especially when they are trying to meet timetable or delivery deadlines, the stops are in place to save lives – theirs as well as those on trains and other road users. In addition to the risk to life, failing to correctly use a level crossing also poses a threat to the career of a professional driver as it is a criminal offence to misuse a level crossing.

This year has seen the successful prosecution of drivers for careless or dangerous driving at level crossings, NR said. For example, in Bugle, Cornwall a delivery van driver was fined and incurred costs and penalty points on his licence.

The driver was also suspended from his job pending the outcome of an internal investigation. In Rossington, Doncaster, a driver found guilty of dangerous driving lost his licence for 12 months and will need to take an extended test in order to get his licence back.

Julia concluded: “The message is clear: for a professional driver, a prosecution for the misuse of a level crossing could have a devastating effect on his or her career.”