Level crossings are somewhat of a grey area when it comes to driving. Not all of us will have a level crossing near us as they tend to be quite rare around the city areas. Most of the newer roads in and around London will have been built around the existing railways which have been around for 100 years or more. But how do we deal with a level crossing when we see one? What do we need to look out for? Here is Want Driving Lessons basic guide to getting through level crossings safely and effectively…
The Level Crossing sign is a universal one, it’s a five posted gate against a white background surrounded by a red triangle. You should see this well in advance of the actual crossing. It might be displayed at the crossing itself too as an added warning to oncoming drivers.
The crossing will be marked by two barriers, sometimes there are two sets of barriers, one that stops traffic a few metres from another barrier that covers the crossing. Trains that pass through will vary in size, but they are a lot bigger than most cars and are travelling at very high speeds. It’s recommended that you stop well behind the give way lines and barriers that mark the crossing. This can also stop any debris like dirt from the tracks hitting and damaging your car.
There will usually be an alarm as well as flashing red lights at the crossing. These will go sound loudly when the train is approaching. So there will be plenty of warning to stay out of the way!
Although spotting the barriers in advance of you getting there isn’t hard. Some people have unfortunately crossed the barrier and found themselves waiting to pass on the train tracks (as shown in the above You Tube video). This is really not a good place to be, especially with an oncoming train, so you’ll have to take drastic action.
It’s recommended that you back up off the tracks as quickly as you can. If the tracks are wide and have a two way system, you might be able to position your car away from the oncoming train. But once again, there is no way to tell if two trains will be passing at the same time! The barriers are made to be flimsy in most cases, so in an extreme emergencies, you will be able to drive through them onto the road ahead (Although being on the tracks in the first place isn’t advised).
At present safety measures are not well enforced on level crossings, especially in the more rural areas. So it’s up to the driver to be prepared before getting to the crossing. Stay tuned to all signs if you know that a level crossing will be coming up. Stop when signaled to do so at the barrier. Be patient! It might be a few minutes until the train clears the crossing and is safe to continue on your journey.