New mobile phone alerts to stop near misses at Chichester crossings

The Stockbridge Road crossing, where the new technology will be introduced as well as at Basin Road crossing
The Stockbridge Road crossing, where the new technology will be introduced as well as at Basin Road crossing

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/

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