Mum also hit by crossing barrier

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I am writing regarding the news item (Shoreham Herald, April 2) regarding the accident the elderly lady had when she was hit by the rail crossing barrier in Shoreham.

I was disappointed to read that another person has had an incident at the crossing.

My mother had a similar but more serious accident on August 28, 2013. My mother was not as lucky as this lady. My mother raised her arm to protect her head and suffered a serious cut and severe bruising to her forearm. The cut opened her arm to her tendons.

My mother luckily received first aid and treatment from a nearby nurse before she was taken to hospital by ambulance. My mother did recover full use of her arm and suffered no permanent damage apart from scarring. My mother also walks with a wheeled mobility aid as she is now aged 88 and suffers with Parkinson’s.

Following my mother’s incident, my family met with two Network Rail representatives. They agreed to carry out some safety measures such as increasing the volume of the audible alarms (which they did) and have a safety day at the crossing, which was held on September 20, 2013.

A major factor in my mother’s accident was that she crossed against the flow of traffic. She too was waiting at the gates and started to cross when the barrier went up. However, if you cross a level crossing against the flow of the traffic, then you have less time to get across. This is because as a pedestrian, the first barrier you go under is the one that comes down second for the traffic. If you are a bit slow for any reason or there is not a lot of time to cross, then your exit can be blocked by the barrier that comes down first for the traffic, or you can end up being hit by the barrier. I hope this makes sense! It was not something I was really aware of until my mother’s accident.

Another factor for my mother was that a double decker bus went over the crossing after the alarm sounded and my mother was therefore obscured from the view of the CCTV and the crossing operator until the incident occurred.

I was advised by Network Rail that British Transport Police wrote to the bus company following my mother’s incident. However, we do think that Network Rail should do more to highlight to people that which side of the crossing they cross on makes a difference as to how much time they have to get across. That is, people should cross with the flow of traffic for more time.

I think this is something that should be highlighted to everyone, not just the elderly or disabled, as it also applies to mums and dads with buggies or anyone who is just a bit slower for whatever reason.

Anything that can be done to help highlight this point would be appreciated as we do not wish to hear of anyone else suffering injury at the crossing.

Sandra Packham

Buckingham Mews

Shoreham

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