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“Act safely at level cros­sings!” Inter­na­tio­nal Level Cros­sing Awa­re­ness Day (ILCAD) on 9 June 2011

(Paris/Warsaw, 7 June 2011)
The­re is no doubt that the train is the safest form of land trans­por­ta­tion. It is when then adds to this the direct inter­faces with other forms of trans­port that the ope­ra­tio­nal risks for rail inc­rease. The inter­face between road and rail at level cros­sings is one of the most sig­ni­ficant risks and one that the rail sec­tor is not able to cont­rol wit­hout sup­port from other key players.

Level cros­sings are an inhe­rent­ly easy way for peo­ple to cross the railway and are comp­le­tely safe if the rules are fol­lowed by tho­se using them. It is these users neg­lec­ting traf­fic rules at level cros­sings that not only put them­sel­ves at risk but also peo­ple tra­vel­ling or wor­king on trains. It is sta­tis­tical­ly cle­ar that most of the acci­dents that occur at level cros­sings are cau­sed by road users and pedest­rians main­ly becau­se of their mis­be­ha­viour.

That is why it is so impor­tant to hig­h­light this issue and bring these risks to the atten­tion of level cros­sing users and make them awa­re of the risks they run by not taking care. This is of cour­se not a prob­lem that can be uniquely add­res­sed by the rail com­mu­nity, it has to be hand­led as one of sha­red concern amongst seve­ral players, inc­lu­ding the road and rail sec­tors, police forces, road users and tho­se with res­pon­si­bi­lity for licen­sing tho­se users as well as with pedest­rians inc­lu­ding cyc­lists.

It is a gene­ral misconcep­tion that level cros­sings are a rail prob­lem when in fact it has always been and remains very much an inter­face between two modes and each has its role to play.

It would be qui­te easy for tho­se com­pa­nies res­pon­sib­le for rail inf­rastruc­tu­re and natio­nal safe­ty aut­ho­ri­ti­es to simp­ly engi­neer-out the prob­lem by clo­sing level cros­sings. This is of cour­se not a rea­lis­tic solu­tion for a num­ber of eco­no­mic rea­sons.

As with any risk situa­tion it is far bet­ter to get to the root of the prob­lem and deve­lop a cam­paign of educa­tion of the users and the part­ners on the other side of the inter­face so that peo­ple are lear­ning to app­recia­te the risks and res­pec­ting the traf­fic rules. Chan­ging the beha­viou­ral app­roach will dec­rease the num­ber of acci­dents at level cros­sings.

It is as a sig­ni­ficant cont­ri­bu­tion to this educa­tio­nal app­roach that ILCAD was born. The Inter­na­tio­nal Level Cros­sing Awa­re­ness Day on 9 June 2011 focu­ses on educa­tio­nal measu­res and the pro­mo­tion of safe beha­viour at and around level cros­sings.

It is built around a ran­ge of natio­nal events held joint­ly at various loca­tions in eve­ry par­tici­pa­ting count­ry; focus­sed on a com­mon mes­sa­ge of “Act safely at level cros­sings!” In addi­tion to regu­lar or per­ma­nent acti­vi­ti­es held throug­hout the year, many special com­mu­nica­tion actions have been plan­ned throug­hout the world: flyers han­ded out at level cros­sings, in schools, dri­ving schools, to scouts. Pos­ters will be dis­played in railway sta­tions and other cent­ral places, the video “Just in time” (fun­ded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion) will be shown on screens in railway sta­tions and on the inter­net and the­re will be special mes­sa­ges broadcast on radio and tele­vi­sion as well as at press con­fe­rences orga­ni­sed with natio­nal and local press.


Final­ly UIC/ILCAD have been gran­ted the use of the logo of the UN-ECE glo­bal Deca­de of Action for Road Safe­ty 2011–2020 as part of many other road safe­ty ini­tia­ti­ves using the mot­to: “Toget­her we can save mil­lions of lives”



  • that accor­ding to artic­le 18 of the UN-ECE Vien­na Con­ven­tion, rail has priority at the inter­face with road and that road users and pedest­rians have to res­pect the road sig­na­ge and stop when reques­ted – reg­ret­tab­ly this res­pect is not always pre­sent this rat­her too often cau­ses acci­dents.
  • that trains can weigh seve­ral hund­red ton­nes and some in excess of 1000 ton­nes and that the dis­tance for a train to be able to stop can be as much as 10 times hig­her that for a car.
  • that apart from the obvious phy­sical dama­ge cau­sed by a road vehic­le cras­hing into a train at a level cros­sing, the­re are also psyc­ho­lo­gical, social and financial con­sequences inc­lu­ding, loss of a family mem­ber, post-trau­ma­tic effects on the train dri­ver, train pas­sen­gers, wit­nes­ses, vic­tims not for­get­ting the sys­tem dis­rup­tion and the train and road traf­fic delays…


You can find detai­led infor­ma­tion on good prac­tices and educa­tio­nal mate­rial desig­ned to hig­h­light the issue of mis­be­ha­viour at and around level cros­sings by con­sul­ting the dedica­ted web­si­te

Note to edi­tor:

 App­roxi­ma­tely a 1/3 of fata­li­ti­es occur­ring on the rail sys­tem in Euro­pe occur at level cros­sings but becau­se these only account for around 2% of all road deat­hs, is seen out­si­de the rail com­mu­nity as a mini­mal prob­lem

It is encoura­ging that the road and rail orga­ni­sa­tions from the count­ries par­tici­pa­ting in ILCAD  ack­now­led­ge the sha­red res­pon­si­bi­lity in order to deal with this issue and it  is for this rea­son that they are col­la­bo­ra­ting in the orga­ni­sa­tion of these events to deve­lop pub­lic awa­re­ness and safe beha­viour at and around level cros­sings.

Many of these same bodies have sig­ned the Euro­pean Road Safe­ty Char­ter which is an ini­tia­ti­ve of the Euro­pean Union. The Char­ter has the objec­ti­ve of deve­loping conc­re­te actions, asses­sing results and furt­her heigh­tening awa­re­ness about the need to reduce traf­fic acci­dents and fata­li­ti­es through the exc­han­ge of best prac­tices in traf­fic safe­ty in Euro­pe, whi­le adding a Euro­pean dimen­sion to indi­vi­dual or col­lec­ti­ve ini­tia­ti­ves.

The task now is to spread this mes­sa­ge as far and as widely as pos­sib­le and invol­ve as many players as pos­sib­le in the road sec­tor, govern­men­tal agencies, railway underta­kings, rail inf­rastruc­tu­re mana­gers, police forces, non-pro­fit orga­ni­sa­tions dea­ling with railway safe­ty educa­tion (par­ticu­lar­ly at level cros­sings) so that we are taking the mes­sa­ge to the maxi­mum num­ber of aut­ho­ri­ti­es and users.

More than 40 count­ries as well as Euro­pean and Inter­na­tio­nal rail orga­ni­sa­tions (UIC, CER, EIM), Ope­ra­tion Life­sa­ver, the Euro­pean Trans­port Safe­ty Council (ETSC), the Euro­pean Level Cros­sing Forum (ELCF), the Euro­pean Railway Agency (ERA) and the UN-ECE Trans­port Divi­sion. The Latin Ame­rican Railway Associa­tion (ALAF), the Aust­ra­la­si­an Railway Associa­tion (ARA) and the Associa­tion of Ame­rican Rail­roads (AAR) are invol­ved in this cam­paign but the­re is still room for many, many more.


For more infor­ma­tion on this inter­na­tio­nal coor­di­na­ted ini­tia­ti­ve:

  • Inter­na­tio­nal Union of Railways (UIC)
    Isa­bel­le Fon­ver­ne, Pro­jects Officer, Safe­ty & Inte­ro­pe­ra­bi­lity
    T: + 33 1 44 49 20 91
    Com­mu­nica­tion e‑mail:
  • Euro­pean Level Cros­sing Forum (ELCF)
    Alan Davies, Chair­man, T.: +44 20 3142 5371
  • Ope­ra­tion Life­sa­ver (OL)
    Tamo Vahe­mets, Cha­ri­man of OL Esto­nia T: +372 50 45112