Just 36% of people aged 18-24 believe going on to railway tracks is "extremely dangerous", the research commissioned by Network Rail found.
This is despite 32 people being killed on Britain's level crossings in the past five years.
In the last year there was also a 12% spike in the total number of incidents at crossings, including accidental fatalities, near-miss accidents and deliberate misuse.
A woman who lost her leg at a level crossing when she was 17 urged young people to be aware of the dangers.
Lucy Ruck, who was hit by a train in Farnborough, Hampshire, in 1993, said: "My message to young people at level crossings is to look. It's more dangerous than crossing a road because of the speed, power and force of a train.
"If I'd have been walking a little bit faster I wouldn't be here now, I would have been on the front of the train and I'd have been a statistic.
"Nowhere is worth being on time if you're risking your life to be there."
Network Rail's head of public and passenger safety Allan Spence said: "A lack of knowledge around how dangerous the tracks can be means more people are not taking the proper care at level crossings and putting themselves in danger.
"We are investing more than £100 million to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too.
"By understanding how to use a crossing safely and paying attention to the warnings at level crossings, we can all keep ourselves out of harm's way."
There are about 6,000 level crossings in Britain.