Though they may seem like relics of a bygone age, there are still around 6000 level crossings in use in Britain today. Together, they represent a significant safety hazard. On average 46 incidents take place at level crossings each week, resulting in six fatalities since 2013. The Health & Safety Executive has recognised the hazardous nature of level crossings by declaring that, other than in exceptional circumstances, no new level crossings will be built in Britain. The problem of intersecting rail and road routes would simply be solved in another way today, but retrofitting level crossings across the length and breadth of Britain would be a vastly expensive undertaking so these quaint features of the British road system will probably be with us for some time to come.
Since 2009, Network Rail and partners have eliminated some of the risk associated with level crossings by:
Getting comfortable with the way level crossings operate could help reduce your risk of being involved in an incident with one of them. The danger is particularly acute when travelling on an unfamiliar route. You come across a level crossing unlike any you've ever seen before. Perhaps there is no barrier. There may be a phone next to the roadside. What do you do?
Part of the problem with level crossings is that there is a bewildering variety of them and very little standardisation. A vast multiplicity of authorities, executives, local councils, and private businesses share responsibility for operating and maintaining them. There is no unified control. You may have a vision, or even experience, of a modern level crossing system - a technological marvel where an automated barrier system ascends and descends in perfect synchrony with the approaching and departing trains, posing no danger to anyone and wasting little time. But not all level crossings are like that. Did you know that some level crossings are manually operated, and require you to get out of your vehicle, lift the entry gate, then the exit gate on the other side, drive your vehicle through, then get out and close both gates again before driving off? No? Then read on.
Here's a breakdown of all the types of level crossing you might encounter and how you should react to them.
As you can see, there is a great variety of level crossing types in use in Britain today. This is potentially confusing for the motorist and can be a safety hazard. Being aware of the different kinds of level crossing you might encounter can only make your journeys safer and more pleasant.
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Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated September 2019.