Virtual reality helps Network Rail highlight crossings danger message

Virtual reality is among the tools being used by Network Rail in a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of level crossings.

Network Rail has launched a safety awareness campaign around automatic half-barrier level crossings
Network Rail has launched a safety awareness campaign around automatic half-barrier level crossings

In its latest safety campaign, Network Rail wants to raise awareness of the risks of ignoring automatic barrier level crossings – and has developed a harrowing virtual reality experience to hammer home the point.

‘Dying to Get Home Isn’t Worth Dying For’ is the key message of Network Rail’s awareness drive, which launched on Monday (30 October).

It also uses the message 'Take care at level crossings or you’re on dangerous ground'.

Network Rail has created an immersive 360-degree virtual reality experience through its dedicated app Network Rail – Level Crossings.

Users can either experience the content in VR mode, by inserting a smartphone into a VR case, or view the films through 360 degrees on the Network Rail YouTube channel.

In one of the films, a family’s car gets hit by a train as the driver jumps the barrier to try to get to the market more quickly.

Meanwhile, the video also features a man called Mark sharing his experience and thoughts after he drove through a level crossing red light, putting his children at risk.

The campaign is running across the Network Rail website, with social media engagement on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

It will also be "pushed at a local level by our network of level crossings managers located nationwide", according to Donna Mitchell, media relations manager (campaigns) for Network Rail.

The campaign will also be supported over the coming month with radio advertising.

"This is one element of our overall level crossing safety campaign and our wider railway safety campaign," added Mitchell.

It aims to cut accidents and near-misses at the UK’s 400 automatic half-barrier crossings – which descend over just half of the road.

They are a risk because they are not manned and some drivers try to weave around the barriers, risking a collision with a train or a near-miss.

In the past two years, there have been 116 near misses and two accidental fatalities involving vehicles at Network Rail level crossings.

Mitchell told PRWeek the effectiveness of the campaign would be measured by "reach and behaviour change and a reduction in incidents at automatic half-barrier-type level crossings", with the goal of a five per cent decrease year on year.

This latest campaign from Network Rail follows a comms drive launched last week to urge lorry drivers to check their height before driving under low rail bridges.

Around five lorry drivers hit bridges each day in the UK, and the ‘bridge bash’ campaign uses straplines including ‘What the truck’ and ‘Lorries can’t limbo’ to promote it to HGV drivers and haulage companies.

Network Rail’s former group director, corporate comms, Barney Wyld, recently told PRWeek that the comms team was critical for the organisation in maintaining its reputation.

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