We vow as parents to keep our kids safe and secure, and while level crossings might not be top of mind, they can be a big danger to kids. This is especially true by the time they reach secondary school and their life is full of distractions, chatting with friends or using their phones. It is precisely this group who statistically are most in danger at level crossings and need to know about level crossings safety.
We discussed the dangers of distractions around level crossings for 14- to 24-year-olds with our community, and traded tips on what we can do as parents to stop distractions at level crossings resulting in injury or worse.
What does level crossings mean?
You may have heard the term but are still wondering: ‘What are level crossings?’ Quite simply, they are places where the railway crosses the road. Each crossing can be different — they can have barriers that come down, flashing lights, gates and alarms. See the safety steps for pedestrians at level crossings.
How many level crossings are there in the UK?
There are around 6,000 level crossings in Britain and Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales, is promoting safety at all of them. There have been more than 2,000 incidents involving 16- to 24-year-olds at level crossings over the past 6 years. Check out the Network Rail site to learn more.
Want to know about the level crossings in your neighbourhood?
Why are level crossings dangerous?
It might sound a bit obvious but the danger of level crossings is getting hit by a train! Because there isn’t a permanent barrier between pedestrians and cars and train traffic, it’s extremely important to stop, look and listen — and pay attention to signage, alarms and gates. Teenagers have been killed at level crossings by trains going up to 70mph!
Too often people try to ‘race the train’ in an attempt to cross before it arrives, or cross immediately after one train passes without realising another train is approaching from the opposite direction. They may think a line is ‘disused’ That’s why everyone should approach level crossings with care and follow all safety instructions.
Parents’ concerns about level crossings
It’s a worry with teens, often distracted with phones, earphones in, hoodies up… Also new drivers… @missielizzieb
Not just new drivers..stupid drivers ignoring lights or worse..driving around barrier. @Goriami
Hate how our youngsters feel nothing can harm them and can be foolhardy after we look after them @Kateonthinice
Tragically a girl died on a crossing near my son’s school a few years ago so #levelcrossingsafety is close to our hearts @TheBeezleyBuzz
Would it impact your decision on letting teens walk to school if they had to cross a level crossing on the way?@Tantrums2Smiles
We live right by a rail crossing and my son has known from an early age you do not mess about at the rail crossing @TheCheshireWife
Such a worry for me with my 11yr old travelling 1.5 miles to her new secondary school from September @S_Walker_S
Last Saturday I ‘found’ the listed Signal Box at #Chalford. Thought it was a ‘museum’ @Salisays……..
How to talk to teens about level crossing safety
Talking to teens is always a challenge as they are at the age where they are self-centred and think the know best, but we have had some great tips from parents on how they get through to them.
The best way of telling teens about the
#LevelCrossingSafety is to just teach them the dangers and tips to stay safe! Better safe then sorry @Star2867
Sometimes honestly is the best policy and telling the harsh realities about what could and DOES happen works best! @Tantrums2Smiles
Have good discussions with my 21-yr-old about real events which help her understand the dangers @AnnieMay64
I’ve drilled into my kids the need to listen to safety briefings on planes/trains. Need to do same at level crossings @JHowze
Probably speaking to families of those affected too. Stories being told in schools so they can see the consequences @DanDanDiscoMan
We always make a point to look when crossing and put phones away @KatCandyFloss
Don’t forget your pet! Dogs can be distracted by so many things too, so always keep them on a lead @SadieWestWood1
Video about level crossings
Seeing news broadcasts, videos etc often shocks at first but the message usually stays in their head! @Tantrums2Smiles
Some of the close calls you see on CCTV shows. People don’t stop to think! What if you tripped? @angep1969
I had a look at the website and there are lots of great tips to teach yourself and your kids about safety! @Star2867
For more shocking videos about real-life railway incidents, see the Network Rail YouTube channel.
What does your level crossing look like?
At bit like us, level crossings come in all shapes and sizes, some with gates that rise and fall as the train approaches, others with a zig-zag gate or just styles with flashing lights where it is more important that you pay attention to what is going on.
Network Rail advice for level crossings safety
On hand to offer advice to BritMums parents were Allan Spence & Sandy from Network Rail. This is what they had to say:
We try to spread the #levelcrossingsafety message to help others learn before a tragedy strikes
If you break down on a road crossing, use the crossing phone to let the signaller know straight away
Our new Virtual Reality films #levelcrossingsafety also grab kids’ attention whether on a posh VR headset or just a Google Cardboard
Anyone can use our #levelcrossingsafety materials and films to help carers and others help make the railway safer
We have to find ways to interact with teenagers using the technology and media they use regularly
Every level crossing is detailed on our website http://networkrail.co.uk
Never cross if a train is coming. It’s difficult to judge their speed. And they can’t stop or swerve!
Waiting a few seconds can be difference between living & not. No one who’s had trauma of an accident would risk it
It’s illegal to cross against red lights on a road crossing.
Young children from Bognor Regis have designed & built a complex model railway to help school pupils learn about the dangers of the railway pic.twitter.com/JE9M5KstF7— NR South East (@networkrailSE) June 26, 2017
We can all play our part in making the railway safer together. Don’t let this become real for you!
A big thank you to all those that took part. We hope it helps you chat to the kids about the importance of Level Crossing Safety.