[image_frame style=“framed_shadow” align=“left” title=“ILCAD 2012” height=“200” width=“280”][/image_frame] PRESS RELEASE: “Act safely at level cros­sings!” Inter­na­tio­nal Level Cros­sing Awa­re­ness Day (ILCAD) 7 June 2012 

Paris, 7 June 2012): Today the inter­na­tio­nal railway com­mu­nity celeb­ra­tes the 4th edi­tion of the Inter­na­tio­nal Level Cros­sing Awa­re­ness Day (ILCAD) focu­sing on educa­tio­nal measu­res and the pro­mo­tion of safe beha­viour at and around level cros­sings. In more than 42 count­ries a ran­ge of natio­nal events will be held joint­ly at various loca­tions with the com­mon ILCAD mes­sa­ge “Act safely at level cros­sings!”, in addi­tion to regu­lar acti­vi­ti­es held throug­hout the year.


Trains are undoub­ted­ly one the safest modes of trans­port. But it is the inter­face between road and rail, namely level cros­sings that rep­re­sent a big ope­ra­tio­nal risk for the railways. The most logical solu­tion would be to engi­neer out the prob­lem and remo­ve all level cros­sings but it would rest­rict mobi­lity in many places. In addi­tion buil­ding brid­ges or under­pas­ses is not always pos­sib­le in built up areas; it is also very expen­si­ve (5 to 10 mil­lion EUR in Euro­pe) and is the result of a long process. Level cros­sings are also very use­ful to the com­mu­nity and very often local aut­ho­ri­ti­es want to keep them.

Cam­paign pos­ters:

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Tra­ver­sing level cros­sings is safe for road users and pedest­rians as soon as they res­pect traf­fic signs and sig­nals as laid down in the Hig­hway Code and based on the UN “Con­ven­tion on road traf­fic” and the “Con­ven­tion on Road Signs and Sig­nals“ both sig­ned in Vien­na in 1968 and app­lied worl­dwi­de.

Accor­ding to the Euro­pean Railway Agency (ERA) 619 acci­dents cau­sed 359 fata­li­ti­es in the Euro­pean Union in 2010 (831 acci­dents cau­sed 405 fata­li­ti­es in 2009). They rep­re­sent 30% of all railway fata­li­ti­es in the EU aga­inst 1.2% road fata­li­ti­es. The­re­fo­re it is con­si­de­red as a minor prob­lem for the road but a huge prob­lem for the railways. Besi­des these fatal level cros­sing acci­dents, thousands of near-miss inci­dents occur eve­ry day in the world that could lead to a catast­rop­he if they invol­ve buses or heavy vehic­les.

Almost 98% of all acci­dents at level cros­sings (at least in Euro­pe) are cau­sed by misu­se of road users and pedest­rians who do not res­pect traf­fic signs and sig­nals. These peo­ple usu­al­ly live and work near level cros­sings.

The­re are seve­ral rea­sons why peo­ple take risks at level cros­sings:

  • time pres­su­re (school, work, appoint­ments) peo­ple think: ”I can make it”, ”I am not wai­ting any lon­ger”, ”It won’t hap­pen to me”, becau­se of fami­liarity: ”I cross here seve­ral times a day”, ”I know the train time­tab­le”,
  • dist­rac­tion: ”I didn’t rea­li­se”, ”I was dist­rac­ted by the radio, children crying or shou­ting”, use of mobi­le pho­ne, use of GPS, young peo­ple wea­ring a head­pho­ne (beco­ming a big concern),
  • phy­sical rea­sons such as fati­gue (pro­fes­sio­nal dri­vers), use of drugs and/or alco­hol. Accor­ding to EC figu­res: 20% of cras­hes on the roads are cau­sed by fati­gue and 25% when dri­ving under the inf­luence of alco­hol or drugs.

Acci­dents are also cau­sed by vio­la­tion. Spee­ding is the hig­hest risk fac­tor of col­li­sion at level cros­sings as well as in other road areas. Accor­ding to EC figu­res 30% of fatal road acci­dents in the EU are cau­sed by spee­ding. This is why fixed came­ras, speed radars have been ins­tal­led at level cros­sings in some count­ries (U.K., France…). Zigzagging between two clo­sed half bar­riers by road users; pedest­rians jum­ping over the bar­riers also rep­re­sent a high acci­dents risk.

Level cros­sing acci­dents have long term and enor­mous human impact on the society (loss of a belo­ved per­son or family, lost cont­ri­bu­tion to home and work pro­duc­ti­vity, qua­lity of life, post trau­ma­tic effects on the loco­mo­ti­ve dri­ver, car or train pas­sen­gers, on the wit­nes­ses, on the inju­red peo­ple, high medical costs..).

Society still regards level cros­sing acci­dents as a railway prob­lem, des­pi­te evi­dence of moto­rists being at fault, the impact in the media being very nega­ti­ve. The rail sec­tor alo­ne is not able to cont­rol the high risks issu­ed by road users and pedest­rians tra­ver­sing level cros­sings wit­hout the sup­port from other key players inc­lu­ding the road and rail sec­tors, police forces, road users and tho­se with res­pon­si­bi­lity for licen­sing tho­se users as well as pedest­rians and cyc­lists.

Other ini­tia­ti­ves apart from clas­sical engi­nee­ring solu­tions could inc­lu­de inno­va­tions like alerts or loca­tions of level cros­sings on satel­li­te navi­ga­tion sys­tems (U.K. France…), sig­nals sent to cars at level cros­sings by app­roac­hing trains (being tes­ted in Aust­ra­lia).

But the core solu­tion still remains human beha­viour. That’s the rea­son why the Inter­na­tio­nal Level Cros­sing Awa­re­ness Day is so impor­tant to make level cros­sing users awa­re of the dan­gers they face when not res­pec­ting the traf­fic rules and make them awa­re of the serious risks not only for them­sel­ves but also for their accom­panying per­sons, the railway staff mem­bers and train pas­sen­gers.

Did you know?

  • Trains can weigh 1500 tons; the dis­tance for a train to stop can be 10 times hig­her than for a car.
  •  When a train runs at 90 km/h, it takes 800 metres to stop (up to 1200 metres depen­ding on the weight and speed of the train), a car stops wit­hin 70 metres.
  • Accor­ding to RFF: 50% of car col­li­sions between a train and a car lead to a fata­lity: 5% only when it is a “typical road acci­dent”.
  •  Accor­ding to the World Health Orga­ni­sa­tion traf­fic acci­dents cost between 1 to 2% (in high inco­me count­ries) of the Gross Natio­nal Pro­duct accor­ding to the count­ry.
  • Since ILCAD part­ners have star­ted to tack­le the level cros­sing safe­ty issue through bet­ter Engi­nee­ring, risk miti­ga­tion, more Educa­tion and more Enforce­ment, they have been expe­riencing great dec­reases in the num­ber of col­li­sions and fata­li­ti­es, some examp­les: Ope­ra­tion Life­sa­ver inc. U.S.A, since 1972: ‑84% fewer col­li­sions; Ope­ra­tion Life­sa­ver Cana­da, since 1980: ‑75% fewer col­li­sions; RFF, France, since 2000: ‑50% fewer col­li­sions, REFER, Por­tu­gal, since 1999: ‑84% fewer col­li­sions.
  • On 7 June, an inter­na­tio­nal con­fe­rence will take place from 16.00 to 17.15 at RFF HQ in Paris. Hubert du Mes­nil, Pre­si­dent of RFF and Jean-Pier­re Loubi­noux, Direc­tor-Gene­ral of UIC as well as inter­na­tio­nal rail and road sta­ke­hol­ders, beha­viou­ral experts and tho­se invol­ved in pre­ven­tion will par­tici­pa­te in this official kick-off that will be broadcast live around the world. You can watch it at the fol­lowing link: A press con­fe­rence will be held prior to this event.



Note to the Edi­tor:

The 42 count­ries invol­ved 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 acti­vely invol­ved in this cam­paign but the­re is still room for many, many more.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and UNECE have res­pec­ti­vely launc­hed their Road Safe­ty Deca­de pled­ging to reduce the num­ber of road acci­dents, fata­li­ti­es and inju­ries in the EU and around the world. ELCF, UIC and ILCAD part­ners sig­ned the Euro­pean Road Safe­ty Char­ter in 2009 through which com­pa­nies, pub­lic aut­ho­ri­ti­es, associa­tions and rese­arch ins­ti­tu­tions can com­mit to sup­por­ting the EU to meet its road safe­ty tar­gets by taking conc­re­te steps to imp­ro­ve road safe­ty and sha­re ideas and expe­riences. ILCAD has also been gran­ted the use of the logo of the UNECE Deca­de of Action for Road Safe­ty 2011–2020 as part of many other road safe­ty ini­tia­ti­ves.

UIC orga­ni­sed for the second time the worl­dwi­de con­test for children on level cros­sing safe­ty for which we recei­ved over 400 drawings. The best drawings from diffe­rent count­ries around the world will be exhi­bi­ted during ILCAD cam­paigns and other level cros­sing safe­ty events. Final­ly a new video has been pro­duced for ILCAD 2012.

For more infor­ma­tion ple­ase visit the dedica­ted web­si­te and also visit to view the inter­na­tio­nal ILCAD launch con­fe­rence in strea­ming orga­ni­sed at RFF Hea­dqu­ar­ters, our host in Paris.