Young people told to put phones away by new level crossing technology

Teens at a level crossing. Image by Network Rail
Teens at a level crossing. Image by Network Rail

New technology is being introduced to deter children from being distracted by their mobile phones at level crossings.

This comes as newly-released figures reveal young people are more likely to have a near miss at a level crossing during the summer holidays.

Network Rail says many will simply be distracted when crossing the railway – either by their friends, their phones or their cameras.

To help combat the issue, Network Rail and British Transport Police are introducing ‘geo-targeting’ at a number of level crossings where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk.

The system will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.

The level crossings targeted include Warnham foot crossing, North Horsham, and Stockbridge and Basin Road level crossings, Chichester.

Network Rail community safety manager Nicola Dooris said: “Many young people simply don’t think about the dangers of the railway and parents will know how difficult it is to drag their kids away from their phones or other tech.

“Those two factors together mean that we have a constant battle to get through to children to help them stay out of danger. Anything parents can do to help us could make all the difference.”

New data has revealed more than two thirds (70 per cent) of near misses are due to distraction – with the top three distractions at level crossings highlighted as friends (40 per cent), headphones (20 per cent) and mobile phones (12 per cent).

Almost a third (29 per cent) of young adults admit to using their mobile phone while crossing the railway.

A huge 95 per cent of under 25-year-olds report owning a smart phone and spend twice the amount of time on their mobile than the average user.

Level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway, with more than 2,000 incidents in the last five years.

Inspector Becky Warren from British Transport Police (BTP) said: “Level crossings are there to help people cross the railway when it is safe to do so but pedestrians need to pay full attention when they use them.

“Sadly, our officers know the tragedy families are faced with after a loved one is killed at a level crossing. A moment of distraction, be that checking a text or changing a song, can leave devastation and heartbreak for families.

“We regularly conduct operations at level crossings and run events across the country in conjunction with our partners in Network Rail to raise awareness on how to use crossings safely.”

To find out more about how to stay safe when using level crossings visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings/