Professional drivers say they base level crossing decisions on their knowledge

Crossings
Credit: Network Rail

More than one in five professional drivers would base a decision on what to do at a level crossing on their knowledge of the train timetable

A staggering 23% of professional drivers have admitted that if they knew the train timetable and did not believe a train was due to arrive, they would drive over a level crossing.

The most common reasons cited for taking the risk was running late to make a delivery (12%) or a desire to finish work and get home early (16%).

This was in spite of an overwhelming majority of professional drivers specifically knowing knowing that all vehicles must stop for the warning lights at level crossings.

The shocking admission was revealed in a survey commissioned by Network Rail for ILCAD – International Level Crossing Day, which is being held on Thursday 6 June  – a global initiative supported by more than 40 countries to raise public awareness on the safety factors and dangers posed by misuse at level crossings. This year’s ILCAD is targeting professional drivers – reminding them that stopping for the red lights at a level crossing can be the most important stop of the day.

Britain has the safest railway in Europe however last year saw a 7% rise in the number of incidents at level crossings in Great Britain. Which this caused over 93,000 minutes of delays to rail journeys.

Although professional drivers were responsible for roughly about 10% of those incidents, they had a bigger impact. Their impact resulting in just over 43,000 minutes of delay. That is almost half (46%) of the total for the year!

This ILCAD Network Rail will be working with professional drivers across the nation, to remind them how to use level crossings safely. Their network of level crossing safety managers will be out and about at level crossings and working with companies with vehicle fleets, reminding professional drivers:

  • Amber warning lights at road level crossings mean ‘Stop. A train is coming’.
  • Nobody is allowed to cross when the red lights flash – not even emergency services.
  • Wait for the all clear before proceeding to cross at a level crossing
  • Never assume that there is only one train coming or think that they know the timetable to guess when a train might come.
  • Beware of distractions. Loud music may mean the driver doesn’t hear alarms at level crossings or an oncoming train.
What did the officials say?

Allan Spence, head of passenger and public safety at Network Rail said:

“We know that professional drivers have a number of time pressures, but it is  important to always act safely at level crossings to keep both themselves and others from harm.

“It’s really simple, every driver must wait for the flashing lights to stop before going across.  It only takes one mistake  – such as presuming when trains will run from the timetable – to cause an incident that can harm both you and people on trains. We’ve installed a number of safety measures at level crossings to minimise the risks, including enforcement cameras at various crossings around the country. No delivery is so important that it is worth risking your life or licence for.”

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Emma Holden avatar
I have been around trains at heritage railways all my life. In particular, the narrow gauge trains in Wales, and spent many Duncan days at the Talyllyn Railway when I was younger. I have been a volunteer author for RailAdvent since 2019
  • Lorry drivers should know the dangers when crossing over the railway tracks as the barriers are coming. As the train is approaching. This is why there are so many fatalities and near misses when drivers don’t seem to obey the rules about level crossings and just think that they are “playing chicken”. No wonder we got so many bad drivers in this country that just don’t seem to care.

    At least the notorious level crossing in Ely, Cambridgeshire is now permanently closed because of the new A142 bypass has been built. So that HGVs and heavy vehicles can still get to where they want to go as the bypass has helped many drivers and is a diversion route for HGVs and other larger vehicles avoiding the low bridge in Ely. As smaller vehicles can pass underneath the railway tracks.

  • This sadly underlines the total lack of respect that road users generally show for any rules or restrictions; from a personal point of view I question the term “professional” when applied to too many HGV drivers…as for ‘Transit Man….” Nuff’ said!