Reckless or distracted motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians underestimate the risks involved in crossing a level crossing, endangering their own lives, the lives of other motorists and those travelling by train.
The main causes of accidents at level crossings are a disregard for the rules, haste, distraction and bad habits. Rarely attributable to the railway system, accidents can also be caused by fatigue, stress, high speed, alcohol or drug abuse.
The correct behaviour to adopt in the presence of a level crossing is regulated by Article 147 of the Highway Code. The aim is to progressively reduce accidents and fatalities to zero whilst increasing the safety of the railway system. The Infrastructure Hub shall reinforce the synergy between Rete Ferroviaria Italiana and Anas in conjunction with the commitment of both companies in activities aimed at eliminating level crossings by building underpasses and overpasses. Through a joint dialogue, it will thus be possible to further accelerate the project.
The rules to be respected are:
If the vehicle comes to an unexpected stop, the driver must make every effort to remove the vehicle from the area delimited by the tracks or do everything possible to avoid danger and ensure that the train drivers are notified in good time.
Damaging a level crossing involves the forcible detachment or breaking of the barrier from the manoeuvring box by a vehicle, causing the shearing of an electric circuit cable, resulting in the loss of control of the “closed” level crossing. The resulting fault causes the signals in place to protect the level crossing at the “Via Impedita” (“Do Not Cross”), communicating to the oncoming train that the level crossing is not properly closed as it should be.
RFI has put in place an action plan to eliminate level crossings throughout the country, along with the installation of new technologies to mitigate the effects of misconduct. For example, the installation of devices known as “skirts” on all level-crossing booms blocks the underlying space, creating a deterrent against improper passage across a closed level crossing.
Railway side, level crossings with full barriers are protected by signals that constrain the passage of trains by ensuring that the barriers are actually closed before the train is given the “Via Libera” (or, “All Clear”). Integrative technologies dedicated to the detection of obstacles in the area delimited by closed barriers are becoming increasingly popular. These are Automatic Integrative Protection devices for Level Crossings, based on laser or radar technology systems.
The number of level crossings across Italy is steadily declining, also in view of the fact that all new railway lines are built without any level crossings at all. In order to proceed with the elimination of a level crossing as quickly as possible and to carry out the replacement works, dialogue with the authorities concerned is essential.