How To use Level Crossings
A level crossing is where a railway line crosses a road. Trains pass over level crossings at high speed, which means when accident occurs at a level crossing the accident is more often than not a serious one.
Always approach a level crossing with caution. Never take risks. Never think you can jump the barriers and make it safely to the other side. You should only ever drive onto a level crossing if the exit on the other side is clear.
At any level crossing you must not:
- drive on to the crossing unless the road beyond it is clear
- drive 'nose to tail' over the crossing
- stop on or just after the crossing
- park close to the crossing
- start crossing once the lights, alarm or barriers operate
- zigzag around half-barrier crossings.
They are several different types of level crossing some of which require different approaches.
Full Barrier Level Crossing
Level Crossing Warning Lights
Half Barrier Level Crossing
Controlled Level Crossings
Most level crossings utilize traffic light signals with a steady amber light, twin flashing red stoplights and a sound alarm for pedestrians. Some will have full barriers - a barrier on each side of the crossing that extend over both lanes. Some will have half barriers - barriers on each side of the crossing that extend over only one lane. And some will have no barriers.
When a train approaches the level crossing the amber light will show followed by the flashing red stoplights. If the amber light shows after you have passed the stop line then you should continue forward. If you haven't past the stop line then you must stop and wait for the lights to go off and the barriers to rise.
Since you could be waiting for a few minutes turn your engine off.
If a train passes and the lights continue to flash or the alarm sounds a different tone then another train is approaching so you must continue to wait.
Some level crossings have no warning lights. If you approach such a crossing and the barriers begin to close then you should stop and wait.
User Operated Level Crossings
These have stop signs and small red and green lights. You must only cross if the green light is on. If the red light shows you must stop and wait.
To cross you need to exit your car and open the gates or barriers on both sides of the crossing.
Before driving over check to make sure the green light is still on. Once over the crossing you should exit your car and close the gates or barriers.
Open Level Crossings
These have no barriers, gates, lights or attendant. There will be a give way sign however. Approach with extra caution, stop, look both ways, listen and make sure no train is approaching.
If ever you break down or have an accident on a level crossing then the first thing to do is to get everyone out of your car and clear of the crossing.
Some level crossings will have a railway telephone present if you see one then use it to inform the operator of what's happened. They will give you instructions, which you should follow. If a train isn't due for a fair amount of time then try and push your car clear. If no railway phone is present then use a mobile to call the police.
Breakdowns and Accidents At Level Crossings
If your car breaks down, or if you are involved in an accident on a level crossing:
- your first priority is to get everybody out of the car and clear of the crossing
- if available, use the railway telephone to inform the signal operator
- obey any instructions given to you by the signal operator
- if possible and there is time, move the vehicle clear and inform the signal operator on the telephone
- if a train approaches or the lights and audible alarm operates, get clear, the train will not be able to stop.
Light signals ahead
Level crossing without barrier or gate
Level crossing with barrier or gate
Level crossing without barrier