New initiative to tackle level crossing misuse

editorial image

Thousands of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians have been given safety advice as part of a British Transport Police initiative to tackle crossing misuse.

Officers visited more than 300 crossings between September 29 and October 5 as part of Operation Look.

During the week, 38 motorists were sent Notices of Impending Prosecution for misuse of level crossings.

Many more drivers were warned about their behaviour, with officers, volunteers and colleagues from Network Rail handing out thousands of leaflets on safe crossing use.

BTP officers also visited schools, colleges and businesses to talk to people about the dangers of misusing crossings.

The safety call comes after improvement works were carried out on the Beech Hill level crossing near Finningley earlier this year where four-year-old girl Emma Lifsey from Haxey was fatally injured in a train crash in December 2012.

Emma died after a car driven by her grandmother Dianne Jarrett collided with a train.

An inquest into Emma’s death heard from optical expert Hugh Barton, who said that the brightness of the warning lights on the crossing were the worst he had seen. A jury ruled that Emma, of Haxey, died as a result of an accident.

Inspector Becky Warren said: “While we are committed to enforcement, the main purpose of this week of action was education. “Many of the people we spoke to during Operation Look were simply not aware of the dangers their actions posed to their safety as well as that of others.”

Tina Hughes MBE, Network Rail’s level crossing user champion, said: “It is hard to imagine why anyone would deliberately go through red lights or barriers coming down at level crossings.

“We need to make a concerted effort to change people’s attitudes and perceptions about crossings, and initiatives like Operation Look play a vital part in that process.”

Network Rail is committed to closing crossings where possible – 891 have been closed in the last four years. However, where crossings cannot be replaced it is vital that people use them properly.

BTP will continue to monitor safety at crossings with another week of action planned for February 2015.