Network Rail and British Transport Police have called upon motorists to further their understanding of the dangers at level crossings in order to improve safety.

The call was made after new research showed that 34% of motorists who responded in Wales and Borders have never been taught how to use a level crossing, leaving many unaware of risks posed by level crossings.

Conducted by Populus for Network Rail, the research also revealed that eight collisions between a vehicle and a train had been reported on the Wales and Borders network over the last five years.

Train drivers reported 59 ‘near misses’ during the same period.

Research also revealed that 18% of drivers would instantly pass a level crossing if they knew the train timetable and believed no train was coming.

“We are seeing drivers take risks at level crossings every day, putting themselves and others in danger.”

This behaviour is considered even more dangerous because freight trains or the trains that are not listed on the public timetable often pass through level crossings at maximum speeds of 100mph.

Network Rail Wales and Borders route managing director Bill Kelly said: “It’s clear that there is a lack of knowledge around how dangerous railway crossings can be. We are seeing drivers take risks at level crossings every day, putting themselves and others in danger. Nothing is worth risking your life over, just to save a few minutes of time.

“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need drivers to obey the law at level crossings.

“By staying behind the barrier until it is safe to cross and paying attention to the warnings at level crossings, we can all keep ourselves and those in our vehicles out of harm’s way.”

Currently, there are 1,150 level crossings in the UK, with one-fifth on the rail network in Wales and Borders alone.