People distracted by their mobiles near Chichester crossings will soon receive an alert on their phones as part of a pioneering new scheme.
Near misses involving children at South East level crossings is expected to rise, Network Rail has warned.
It says young people are more likely to become distracted during the summer, either by their friends or their phones.
To reduce the risk, Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) are introducing ‘geo-targeting’ at level crossings including Stockbridge and Basin Road where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk.
The system will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.
Inspector Becky Warren from 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.”
Around 70 per cent of near misses are said to be due to distraction.”
New data has revealed that over 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), Network Rail said.
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.
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.”
Locations in the South East where the geo-targeting message will be broadcast are:
Stockbridge and Basin Road level crossings, Chichester, West Sussex
Dibley’s foot crossing, Chartham , near Canterbury in Kent
Warnham foot crossing, North Horsham, West Sussex
Glebe Way foot crossing, Whitstable, Kent
Whitehall Road, level crossing, Canterbury, Kent
Simpson’s foot crossing, Sittingbourne, Kent
Teynham West foot crossing, near Faversham, Kent
Red Lane Holland, foot crossing, Oxted, Surrey
Rushford’s foot crossing, Lingfield, Surrey
Bourneview foot crossing, Kenley, Surrey
While Britain still has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway, Network Rail said, reporting that in the last five years there have been more than 2,000 incidents on level crossings.
Network Rail’s army of more than 100 level crossing and community safety managers will also be raising awareness of rail safety right across the rail network by holding safety events and encouraging young people to stay alert when on the rail network.
To find out more about how to stay safe when using level crossings visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings/
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.chichester.co.uk/
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ChichesterObserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @Chiobserver
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Chichester Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.