INTERNATIONAL: Rail and road operators in more than 45 countries, together with international associations including UIC, CER and EIM, are stepping up their campaign to improve safety at level crossings, with June 22 designated as International Level Crossing Awareness Day.
Many road users and pedestrians are killed or injured at level crossings each year, and crossings also pose a significant safety risk for railway operators around the world. European statistics show that level crossing accidents account for only 2% of road deaths but a third of all rail fatalities. Almost all accidents are due to road users failing to observe mandatory stop lights, signals and basic traffic safety rules, and most involve regular users, or people living near crossings, suggesting that familiarity may make people less careful or more reckless.
Despite continuing long-term programmes to close level crossings, or replace them with bridges, there are still hundreds of thousands of level crossings around the world, and eliminating them would involve huge costs and relatively long implementation times. Therefore, governments and transport organisations worldwide are stepping up their education campaign, in order to improve awareness of the dangers at level crossings and the risk of accidents resulting from misuse.
This year's International Level Crossing Awareness Day will build on existing national campaigns, with events being held in every participating country using the common message 'Act safely at level crossings!' In addition to regular campaigns taking place throughout the year, many special activities have been planned across five continents.
As well as government agencies, railway operators and infrastructure managers, road agencies and police forces, the campaign also includes non-profit organisations focusing on railway safety, such as the North American Operation Lifesaver, the European Transport Safety Council and the European Level Crossing Forum. This year the campaign is also being joined by the Latin American and Australasian railway associations.
A dedicated website with background information on level crossing issues has been established at www.levelcrossing.net and special educational material is available from the Awareness Day site at www.ilcad.org. This includes a video clip entitled 'Just in time', which has been financed by the Road Safety unit at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility & Transport (DG Move).