Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Drivers 'risk lives' at crossings

Network Rail safety campaign advert
A scene from Network Rail's hard-hitting safety campaign

Road users who risk their lives by ignoring warning signs and lights at level crossings have been targeted by a 2.5m Network Rail campaign.

A TV advert, launched during Sunday's Grand Prix, shows the carnage caused when a train hits a car at a crossing.

The group said 13 vehicles have struck trains so far this year, and predicts a four-year high of 17 by the new year.

Network Rail boss Iain Coucher said three drivers every week are "abusing" crossings and risking lives.

He said: "Level crossings are safe, but tragically it is unsafe driver behaviour that causes accidents and deaths."

LEVEL CROSSING CRASHES 2008
12 people killed
1751 incidents involving pedestrians
13 car/train collisions
128 car/train near misses
2636 total reported incidents

Source: Network Rail Jan-Sep 2008

Between January and September this year there were 2,636 recorded incidents of misuse at Britain's level crossings, Network Rail said.

It says it believes the true figure is much higher.

During the same period, there were 128 "near misses" between trains and vehicles, it added.

Images of one incident involving pedestrians have shown a high-speed train missing three people at a crossing in Langley Green, West Midlands.

A spokesman told BBC News: "Some people feel they can beat the lights - we have CCTV of someone driving round barriers, as they are coming down, on the wrong side of the road.

"The campaign is about people who are impatient and don't care... their day is far too important. Unfortunately the consequences are very dire indeed."

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Extracts from the Network Rail campaign video

The adverts show people in different scenarios injured or killed at level crossings.

A young man is seen rushing home to see the news, a dog walker tries to take a short cut, and a young girl late returning home runs across the tracks.

In another scene, a man in a suit running late ends up lying in his upturned car after an impact with a train.

Network Rail, which runs the UK's rail network, said pedestrians too are taking risks, with more than 200 near misses up to September this year.

The campaign, called Don't Run The Risk, was launched for maximum impact during Sunday's Grand Prix.



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