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Level crossing misuse 'on the rise'

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Level crossing misuse increased in the UK last year, as pedestrians and motorists continued put their lives at risk, figures have revealed.

According to Network Rail (NR), 3,446 incidents of level crossing misuse were recorded across Britain's national railway network in 2010 - compared to 3,244 in the previous year.

A total of 161 near-misses between trains and road vehicles were registered by NR last year, compared to 140 in 2009 - a 15% jump.

The rail operator further added there were 297 cases of near-misses between pedestrians and trains last year.

Robin Gisby, NR's director of operations and customer services, said: "Too many motorists continue to break the law by jumping the lights or swerving around barriers at level crossings. Hundreds of pedestrians are also risking their lives just trying to save a few seconds - it's just not worth it.

"While deaths and injuries are thankfully few, these actions by those who are either impatient or ignorant of the law cause great cost, delay and disruption to both rail and road passengers across Britain."

NR reported 768 incidents where pedestrians tried crossing when a train was about to arrive, while 748 road vehicles were reported to do the same.

A minor accident could result in a car insurance claim, but a serious one would have far more serious consequences.

But NR said the number of accidents involving road vehicles and trains dropped from 14 in 2009 to seven last year, and deaths at level crossings went down from 13 to four.

NR has funded a purpose-built marked police van to be fitted with nine cameras, each of which can use number plate recognition technology to help deter motorists from breaking the law.

© Press Association 2011