Further to Fraser Guild's letter (28 August, Insurance Times) I too found considerable interest in the thoughtful presentation by Andy Brown (14 August, Insurance Times), highlighting the all-too familiar reported incidence of railway level crossing accidents.
Let us not kid ourselves that level crossing accidents are a recent occurrence or even a growing trend. They have been occurring since the dawn of the Victorian obsession with railway transportation, somewhat prior to the advent of the motor car. So-called modern barriers have been around for many years.
One would think however, from reading Fraser Guild's comments, that the dear old motorist is drawn into some type of hidden trap on approaching railway level crossings by road. Astonishingly, he proffers not one substantive remark about the negligence of motorists who cause these accidents, often with far-reaching consequences, by their ignorance of warning signs and other cautionary notices and barriers, and their failure to observe the simple expedient of taking proper care behind the wheel.
Where notices are posted in one language - and let it not be forgotten this also applies to continental railways - it takes somewhat less than a genius to work out the risk of colliding with a train going about its legitimate business carrying several thousand tons of momentum at a level crossing. Failing to proceed with proper caution while in charge of a motor car is an inexcusable neglect of a motorist's duty of care and ought quite rightly to lead to conviction under the applicable law. We know that the risk of killing a child on the road doubles between the speeds of 30mph and 35mph; why do motorists not understand the damage being hit by a moving train will do?
What is even less acceptable in these circumstances is drivers' putting the lives of innocent children at risk. Until the popular media understand this basic logic, the railways (and other landowners) will continue to shoulder far more than a reasonable share of public opprobrium over these tragic events.
Brown seems to understand the situation far better, judging by his measured approach. It would be rewarding to see insurers, hard pressed as they have been of late, jumping in behind his proposal to combine improved all-encompassing risk management initiatives with education of the wider, motoring community, especially those who put the lives of themselves and others in peril by refusing to drive safely.