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How To Drive Over a Level Crossing

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Level crossings can seem daunting, particularly if you’ve never driven over one before. In reality, though, there’s little to worry about once you’re familiar with the rules and know what to expect. With over 6,000 of them dotted around the nation’s road network, you’re bound to come across one sooner or later – so make sure you memorise these essential tips.

Slow the car down

When you spot a level crossing ahead, start slowing down gradually – you don’t want to have to slam on your brakes at the last minute if the lights begin to flash.

Watch the lights

Most level crossings have lights and barriers. An amber light will illuminate first; if you’ve already passed the stop line you can continue on, but otherwise you must stop and wait. Red lights will begin flashing next, often accompanied by an audible alarm. If the level crossing has barriers, they’ll begin to lower a few seconds after the lights start flashing – so don’t try and beat them!

Leaving the crossing

Once the lights stop flashing and the barrier lifts all the way up, you can cross, but proceed with caution and make sure there’s no traffic blocking the road on the other side. You mustn’t follow the car in front too closely – make sure you maintain a sensible distance.

Not all crossings have lights and barriers

Some crossings don’t have any barriers at all, so you’ll have to rely solely on the lights. You may encounter manually-operated crossings too; they have lights and barriers, but you’ll have to get out your car to open and close them yourself.

Rarely, you may encounter a crossing that has no barriers or lights, just a give way sign. It should go without saying that you have to be extremely careful here, checking that the coast is clear before you drive on.

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