Road Safety News
 

Older drivers are worst level crossing offenders

Thursday 9th June 2011

A campaign to cut criminal behaviour on level crossings in London and the South East has revealed that more than 25% of offenders were women aged 50-65 (BBC News).

With men aged 50-65 accounting for 19% of offences, it means this age group was responsible for 46% of the misuse caught on camera.

Males aged between 17 and 25 accounted for only 8% of offences at level crossings. Network Rail said it was a surprise that a minority of offences were committed by young men, reports BBC News.

The figures have been gathered since January, when a marked police camera van designed to deter motorists from breaking the law, started operations at level crossings in Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, East and West Sussex and Greater London.

British Transport Police officers have caught and prosecuted 1,131 people at 43 level crossings.

Dyan Crowther, Network Rail director, said: "The camera vehicle has proved what we always believed, that far too many people are misusing level crossings.

"Although the initial trend shows that older people are responsible for the highest number of offences, all ages are misusing crossings. Our aim is to deter them all rather than prosecute.

"We hope those caught will change their behaviour and along with other activities we're running [to] see a reduced impact on passenger services and the cost of these crimes on the running of the railway."

Network Rail said that early signs were that the level crossing van was making a difference. Since January, there has been a 31-45% decrease in the number of incidents recorded at three monitored crossings.

Click here to read the full BBC News report.

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Readers should be aware that camera evidence should never be relied on, in the manner suggested above. The application of strict liability is quite inappropriate in the often very complicated circumstances surrounding level crossings. It is probably no coincidence that older people are having more difficulty in these situations. It has been known for more than a decade that a considerable proportion of drivers do not see the (in any event, poor quality) signals. What we should be doing is finding out why, instead of prosecuting people. Readers might wish to consider what red light cameras provide in the way of useful information. The answer, of course, is practically none. Consider their positioning!

Let's hope the next report explains what is going wrong and how those drivers abused by the current approach are to be compensated.
Andrew Fraser, Central Scotland

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