LOSE YOUR headphones - not your head. That’s the blunt warning from safety campaigners to Wigan pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross Parbold level crossing on the busy Wallgate to Southport commuter line.
Those with iPods firmly attached to ears could fail to hear the claxon warning of approaching trains, warn Network Rail.
Now they have joined forces with music artist Professor Green, who is encouraging people to stop listening to his music.
Two people have tragically died this year at footpath crossings where it is thought they were wearing headphones.
In the past five years, train drivers or railway staff have reported 19 incidents where pedestrians, joggers or cyclists wearing headphones have crossed the railway, seemingly oblivious to the approaching train.
The new digital campaign – Lose Your Headphones – features the popular rapper in a video which will appear on the music streaming service Spotify as well as being promoted via social media sites such as Twitter.
Network Rail is also encouraging people to spread the word about removing headphones by offering a prize of Sonos music speakers to five lucky winners who re-tweet the campaign message.
Professor Green said: “I never imagined asking people to stop listening to my music but this is about staying safe, so just for a minute, I want them to stop.
“I know it’s very easy to get caught up in a track when you have your headphones on and get distracted from where you are and what’s around you but I’m asking, please, lose your headphones when at a level crossing and pay attention to all the safety warnings. I don’t want anyone to end up on the tracks listening to one of mine.”
Network Rail’s community safety manager Gemma Duffy said that people wear headphones all the time nowadays - on the train, walking down the street and even cycling or in the shops.
But they believe there are times when it makes sense to stop the music and devote full attention to where you’re going.
She said: “Even with safety warnings such as lights and signs at footpaths across the tracks, it’s easy to get distracted if you’re caught up with your favourite tune.
“If Professor Green is asking people to stop listening to his music just for a few minutes, we hope people will listen up, lose their headphones, and not their lives.”
Dr Bruno Fazenda, from the Acoustics Research Centre, University of Salford said: “Hearing is the only sense that can warn us of dangers we can’t see and when listening to music with headphones we become isolated and are less likely to hear sounds that might tell us of approaching dangers. It’s not just the volume of the music but also because the headphone itself blocks out ambient noise.
“There is also plenty of evidence which shows that when you are doing two activities at the same time, such as listening to music or texting and crossing a railway track, your attention gets divided in such a way that you might not notice an approaching train even if all the warning signals are there.
“I love listening to music on the go but I would definitely put up with just a few moments of dull silence for a better chance to keep my life.”
The campaign will run over the next four weeks.