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Railway crossings and level crossings

Railway crossing

It is only when you are very close to this railway crossing that you can assess the visibility. You should therefore lower your speed before reaching it.

What makes a railway crossing so dangerous is the fact that the trains are unable to swerve (and can have a braking distance of 1 km) while being much larger than a car and driving at a much greater speed (they can easily crush the entire car). This means that you as the driver of the car have nearly all the responsibility.

How to safely cross a railway

  1. Get an idea of the visibility
    Do you have a free line of sight already at a distance? Or are there trees and buildings blocking your view?
  2. Adapt your speed to the visibility
    If you have good visibility, you may not need to slow down at all. In case of poor visibility, you should be prepared to stop.
  3. Crossing
    • Good visibility
      Look both ways in good time before reaching the crossing and go over at the same speed. However, remember that the tracks are uneven, so if you are driving faster than 70 km/h, you should still slow down.
    • Limited visibility
      Slow down, shift to a lower gear (get more power to the engine = avoid stalling), look both ways and then cross. It is recommended to accelerate as you drive across.
    • Poor visibility
      Stop before the crossing, look both ways and then drive across. Put the car in 1st gear and only shift up once the car is completely on the other side (to avoid stalling and other complications).

Stalling on the track

If the engine stalls on the track, you must move the car immediately. If the engine will start, you can just keep driving. The gates are made from a thin material that you can drive through.

If the car does not start, try this:

  • Manual transmission: Release the clutch and turn the key as far as you can in the ignition and keep it there. This will make the starter motor push the car forwards. Note that this does not work on all cars!
  • Automatic transmission or unresponsive car: Go out and push the car. Remember to put the transmission in neutral.

If you are unable to move the car, call 112 to inform them of the situation.

Overtaking at a railway crossing

Overtaking in conjunction with a railway crossing is prohibited, except where one (or both) of the following exist:

  • Gates
  • Traffic signal (red, amber and green).

The prohibition does not apply when overtaking two-wheeled vehicles.

Overtaking table

Gates Signal (red, amber, green) Allowed to overtake
Yes Yes All vehicles
Yes No All vehicles
No Yes All vehicles
No No Two-wheeled vehicles only

Right type of signal

Signal device
This type of signal device is enough to cancel out the overtaking prohibition, as it is a red, amber and green traffic signal.

Signal device
This type of signal device is not enough to cancel out the overtaking prohibition, as it is the regular signal that is posted at nearly every railway crossing.

Important clarification regarding overtaking in conjunction with a railway crossing

Just because it is permitted to overtake in conjunction with certain railway crossings, it does not make it appropriate.

You should therefore think twice about whether it is really necessary to overtake at the railway crossing specifically.

Different types of railway crossings

The gates are often opened before the lights stop flashing. Note however that you may not drive on before the lights stop flashing red.

Full barrier

Full barrier

Half barrier

Half barrier

Distance to railway crossing

Distance to railway crossing III
1:  Furthest distance, i.e. the first sign you see.

Distance to railway crossing II
2:  Middle sign.

Distance to railway crossing I
3:  Shortest distance, i.e. the last sign you see.

Practice theory tests

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Last updated 2017-09-07.