Farm vehicle involved in level crossing incident every week

An incident involving a farming vehicle at a level crossing occurs every week on average in Britain, according to Network Rail.

In the past 10 years, five people have been killed in vehicles at level crossings on farmland, with dozens more injured.

Although Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks.

See also: How farmers can reduce risk on train level crossings

Network Rail’s 20,000 miles of track is crossed by some 3,800 public and private vehicle crossings.

Farming vehicles are the third most specific vehicle type (13%) likely to be involved in an accident on a level crossing, only topped by lorries (32%) and cars (28%).

Network Rail has teamed up with British Transport Police and the Farm Safety Foundation for a national safety campaign, called “Safer”, which reminds farmers of the dangers of not following instructions and safety warnings at level crossings. The campaign is supported by Farmers Weekly and the NFU.

Risk-taking culture

Allan Spence, from Network Rail, said: “We are still seeing farmers take risks at level crossings every day – putting themselves and others in danger.

“With so many new farmers learning to drive vehicles from family members, there is a risk that the correct guidance is not being passed down.

“By following a few simple rules, people can learn how to cross them safely and with confidence.”

Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation, said her organisation was working with young farmers to teach them about the “hidden dangers” of level crossings.

But she added: “We need to see a behavioural change – changing attitudes to risk-taking can help reduce the number of incidents and fatalities that continue to give farming the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK.”

Guidance for farmers on staying safe at level crossings

Speak – If there is a phone, speak to the signaller before and after you cross

Access – Open both gates before crossing and always close them after you

Follow – Check and follow the signs and signals every time you cross

Everyone – Check everyone knows these instructions to get across safely, every time

Responsibility – It’s your legal responsibility to ensure your workers and family comply