Level crossings are vulnerable to accidents due to a number of reasons, but the main reason behind these accidents is the negligence of road users. Whatever may be the cause of an accident on a level crossing, the railways come under severe criticism whenever such an accident occurs, and there is concern at all levels to determine the corrective action that should be taken to minimize these accidents. Some of the safety measures that can be taken to reduce accidents on level crossings are as follows.
Manning of level crossings Busy unmanned level crossings, particularly at locations where buses ply, should be manned in a phased manner.
Providing lifting barriers Lifting barriers should be provided in preference to gates to quickly clear road traffic.
Level crossing indicators At the approaches to all unmanned C class level crossings or manned level crossings where the view is obstructed, bilingual whistle boards should be erected along the track at a distance of 600 m from the level crossing to enjoin the drivers of approaching trains to give an audible warning of the approach of the train to road users. The drivers of approaching trains should blow the train whistle continuously from the time they pass the whistle boards till the time they have negotiated the level crossing.
Stop signs for level crossings Stop signs should be provided on either side of the road approaches to all unmanned C class level crossings at suitable points within the railway boundary.
Speed breaker at level crossings A series of three speed breakers (bumps) spaced 100 m apart should be provided within the railway boundary on either side of all unmanned level crossings with metalled approaches, where motor vehicles ply. The speed breakers should have a smooth parabolic profile so that the vehicles can slow down without experiencing extra jerks.
Rumble strips at level crossings Rumble strips should be provided by road authorities on the road approaches on either side of all manned level crossings where road travellers face poor visibility conditions with a view to making them alert and vigilant. Rumble strips consist of intermittent raised bituminous overlays of 15-20 mm height and 200-300 mm width across the roadway. About 15 to 20 such strips spaced at about 1 m centre-to-centre distance are provided in the approaches to level crossings to caution the motorist.
Following extant rules Normally level crossings should not be kept open to road traffic in contravention of extant orders. On each railway, all cases where the gates of the level crossing are open normally to road traffic should be reviewed immediately and it should be ensured that such instances are permitted only in strict conformity to extant orders.
Job analysis Wherever the gates of a level crossing are kept open to road traffic, the work of the gatemen must be analysed a fresh and, where required, an extra gateman may be provided as per the rules for intensive work, thereby increasing the number of gatemen from two to three.
Visibility Approaching trains should be adequately visible from the road. Whenever an obstruction is discovered on the track, immediate action must be taken to remove it.
Surprise checks Surprise checks should be made to ensure that the gatemen are alert and that road vehicles follow the regulations properly.