On 5 July, and for the fifth edition, RFF together with the French Road Safety Prevention Association (Association Prévention Routière) and their volunteers organised special events at 12 different level crossings throughout the country to raise awareness among road users and pedestrians of the dangers at level crossings just before the long summer leave, using the French motto “Au passage à niveau, protégeons nos vies” – “Save lives at level crossings!”
These local actions followed a worldwide campaign launched on 7 June at RFF HQ in Paris on the occasion of ILCAD 2012.
On 5 July safety radio spots were broadcast all day long; safety messages were published on internet and social networks; huge posters were installed at level crossings; and volunteers distributed safety flyers to road users and pedestrians at the 12 dedicated level crossings.
Frédéric Cuvillier, French Minister of Transport, Hubert du Mesnil, President of RFF, Frédéric Péchenard, French Road and Traffic Safety, Jean-Yves Salaün, French Road Safety Prevention Association (Association Prévention Routière), SNCF, local authorities, partners and UIC participated in a special event organised by RFF at a level crossing in Mennecy in the suburbs south of Paris.
“In 10 years, the number of fatalities has been halved at French level crossings, but safety at level crossings remains a priority: 98% of all accidents are caused by the non respect of road traffic rules...”, said Frédéric Cuvillier. For more information (in French only) please watch http://youtu.be/yoIb0NuhK1c. The Minister, together with volunteers, distributed some safety flyers to road users traversing the level crossing in Mennecy. Volunteers also spent the whole day explaining to bike riders, motorcycle riders, road users and pedestrians what should be done when approaching a level crossing and what they should do if they get trapped within the barriers.
In 2011, 110 collisions at level crossings caused 29 fatalities in France. But the number of collisions has been halved over the last 10 years thanks to the joint actions of RFF, the French government and local authorities by upgrading level crossings (263 for 43 million EUR in 2011 with mixed financing) or by removing level crossings (200 fewer in 2011: there are 18,138 level crossings in France, of which 15,000 are active) and also by organising awareness campaigns. Only over the last two years has RFF stated a decrease of 30% in the number of fatalities compared to 2009. This is a day-to-day effort. Awareness campaigns should remain and take place regularly. Figures in France as well as in other countries show that together with engineering improvements and enforcement measures, education is one of the most important pillars to improve safety at level crossings.