Motorists and pedestrians are still risking their lives and those of other road and rail users by routinely ignoring basic safety at level crossings, according to British Transport Police (BTP).
Officers are carrying out additional high-visibility patrols at crossings in a week of action which starts today (February 2).
‘Operation Look’ will see BTP joined by Network Rail colleagues in an awareness campaign backed by the AA and the RAC.
Between April 1 2014, and January 1 2015, 400 motorists were charged or summonsed for crossing misuse.
A further 357 received fixed penalty notices, 16 were cautioned and 568 were sent on driver awareness courses.
Inspector Becky Warren said, “All too often people get into the habit of taking risks at crossings. Our message is simple – use crossings safely.
“It may be tempting to jump a light to shave a minute or two off your journey, but every time you do, you endanger your life and the lives of other road and rail users.
“Fail to obey the signals and you may also end up with a driving ban or a criminal record. Is it really worth the risk?”
BTP’s fleet of Mobile Safety Vehicles will be stationed at crossings across the country during the week. The vans utilise the latest in Automatic Number Plate Recognition, allowing us to monitor crossings more closely than ever before.
Darren Furness, head of level crossings for Network Rail said, “Level crossings create a risk for people that we want to remove. Where possible we close them, and we have already closed more than 900 in the past five years.
“Those we cannot close we aim to make safer and awareness events like these mean we can meet and talk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about the dangers and how to stay safe.
“We know waiting at crossings can sometimes be frustrating but it is really important that people do not get complacent or ignore warnings lights as this can put lives at risk.”
Network Rail’s Level Crossing Champion Tina Hughes said, “Having lost my 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, with her friend on a level crossing in 2005, I am delighted to see this nationwide week of action.”
“It brings BTP and Network Rail together to emphasise the importance of education and enforcement to help and encourage people to behave safely at level crossings.”
Edmund King, AA President, said, “There is absolutely no reason why a driver should ignore a level crossing signal; to do so is to gamble with their own lives and the lives of others.”
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said, “Too many lives are still being lost as a result of incidents at level crossings
“The more that can be done to raise awareness among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists not to take risks at level crossings, the better it will be for everyone.”