Level crossings, that is, places where roads cross railways, still present a significant safety risk in traffic. Correct driving behaviour at level crossings ensures the safety of both you and other road users. Slow down, focus and observe – a stop at a level crossing may be the most important stop of the day.
Safe traffic at level crossings
The number of level crossing accidents in Finland has decreased as the number of level crossings has been reduced. Dozens of level crossings are removed annually, often in connection with railway projects and basic refurbishments. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency aims to remove level crossings whose conditions do not allow safe crossing, for example in places with poor visibility.
In addition to ensuring good visibility, the safety of level crossings can be improved by, for example, altering the road geometry or, in some cases, reducing the speed of trains at the intersection. Deceleration booms are also used at pedestrian and bicycle level crossings.
The majority of level crossings are located on low-traffic private roads as well as forest and field roads. On these roads, traffic may be very low or seasonal. Planning your driving route is always a good way to ensure safe journeys. The location of level crossings can be checked at the tasoristeys.fi service. Don’t let the train surprise you!
How to drive at a level crossing?
- A level crossing is always indicated by at least traffic signs. Slow down before the intersection so that you can stop safely before the track or boom.
- If the level crossing is equipped with warning devices, they indicate approaching trains. Do not cross the track if the red warning lights are flashing and the boom is down or descending. The white flashing light indicates that the track can be safely crossed.
- If the level crossing is not equipped with warning devices, check both directions several times for an approaching train. If there are no approaching trains, cross the level crossing without delay.
In the event of an exceptional situation:
System failures may occur at level crossings due to a thunderstorm or power supply interruption, for example, leaving the booms half-way. In that case, the red warning lights will flash until the supply of electrical power is restored. Do not cross the track until the maintenance team arrives. The railway traffic control’s telephone number can be found on the level crossing sign of level crossings with a level crossing system.
The sign of an unguarded level crossing also has the level crossing’s coordinates that facilitate the provision of location information in the event of an emergency, for example.
- Note! We recommend using the 112 Suomi mobile application in the event of accidents or other exceptional situations to facilitate positioning.
Road user, remember this!
- There are level crossings with and without booms, and only a quarter of level crossings are equipped with warning devices such as booms, light and sound indicators or level crossing lights.
- As trains cannot give way, the obligation to give way always lies with the road user. The old advice “look to the left, then to the right, and once more to the left” never gets old.
- Phone and other stimuli should be put aside when driving. Decreased caution is one of the most common causes of level crossing accidents.
- A familiar route does not constitute a reason to reduce caution. Do not rely on vague memories of train timetables: in addition to scheduled trains, there is also lots of off-schedule train traffic, such as maintenance or freight traffic.
- Safe behaviour at level crossings applies to all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.