LONG tailbacks and frayed tempers could be prompting senseless motorists to speed through "Yorkshire's most abused level crossing".

That's the view of communities on both sides of the Wigginton Road crossing in York.

Police reports suggest motorists regularly ignore flashing red lights and even falling barriers to shave a few minutes off their journey time.

Today, residents separated by the railway line had a common message: "Slow down and calm down. It's not worth the risk."

Some motorists use Wigginton Road as a shortcut to avoid travelling on the city's outer ring road.

Northbound traffic often gets caught up in long tailbacks at the level crossing - even as far back as York Hospital - as it leaves the city.

But Clifton councillor David Scott said that was no excuse.

He said: "Dodging the barriers is absolutely senseless. Surely it is better to be five minutes late in this world than five minutes early into the next.

"People are dicing with death, and their behaviour could have a tremendous impact on others."

Coun Scott said much of the northbound traffic was York residents trying to avoid travelling on the city's ring road.

He said: "This behaviour is part of a larger issue. The problem is that Wigginton Road is seen as a potential shortcut past delays on a ring road that is not up to the task.

"Big queues build up at the level crossing because people are trying to avoid the problems associated with travelling around the ring road. Parts of Wigginton Road look like a country lane - and it's obviously at capacity, if not beyond it."

Those living north of the crossing, in Wigginton, Sutton-on-the-Forest and Stillington, also have to deal with tailbacks.

York councillor Ian Cuthbertson, who lives in Wigginton, said: "It is crazy to take risks with level crossings. Particularly in the rural areas south of York, there is a history of people dodging level crossings - and not getting away with it. The risks aren't worth it.

"I use that level crossing several times a week, and I do often get caught by it. Queues build up, particularly in peak hours.

"I've never seen anyone actually drive though when the barriers are falling, but you do see examples of bad temper. People need to slow down and be patient - that's the only answer."

As reported in The Press yesterday, Network Rail bosses have now launched a campaign to stamp out level crossing abuse at Wigginton Road.

We asked residents for their views on the Wigginton Road crossing

Jeff Howard, 69, of Haxby, said: "I've never been tempted to skip a red light. It's a mug's game. I have seen people do it, though. People try to beat them."

Maureen Howard, 65, of Haxby, said: "I use that level crossing every now and then, and I do get caught in queues. You see people go through on red. They are mugs."

Joan Emery, 70, of Wigginton, said: "I'm surprised it's the worst in Yorkshire. I can't believe anybody around here would be so stupid."

Kirsty Moss, 33, of Wigginton, said: "Someone was killed on the railway line near York recently. It makes you think twice about safety when something like that happens."