Railroad Crossing Awareness
Incredibly, every 180 minutes in the U.S., someone is hit by a train (FRA, n.d.). This statistic sounds almost outlandish since trains are so big. How could someone possibly allow themselves to be put in harm’s way? Unfortunately, while many would naturally wonder this, the problem still exists. People are hit by trains.
To understand how this could happen, consider this example. An average freight train traveling at 30 mph requires a stopping distance of over half a mile. That means that if a driver was attempting to clear the tracks while the train was proceeding towards them, the train wouldn’t have enough time to stop by the time that the operator saw the problem. For this reason, there are advance warning systems in place to help alert drivers that may be crossing railroad tracks that a train is approaching. Unfortunately, from January to December 2014, there were a total of 7,814 highway-rail accidents across America (FRA Office of Safety Analysis, 2014).
How to Stay Safe
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Slow down and look for warning signs when approaching railroad crossings
- Remember that buses will stop between 15 and 50 feet away from a railroad crossing and will check that a train is not approaching before they proceed
- Give buses and large trucks ample following distance
- Never stop on railroad tracks
- When you come to a stop near railroad tracks, stop at least 50 feet away and never under any circumstances stop within 15 feet of the crossing
While these may seem obvious, it’s important that you follow these rules if you want to be safe. You should never stop on railroad tracks. Can you imagine what would happen if you were parked on train tracks and your car stalls? Or, if you’re parked there and you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Where will you go? Don’t put yourself in a precarious situation!
Highway-Rail Grade Crossing and Trespass Prevention. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Highway-Rail Crossings. FRA Office of Safety Analysis. 2014.