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Four Railroad Crossing Safety Basics To Teach Your Children

Teaching your kids railroad crossing safety basics is crucial for keeping them safe around train tracks.  This is especially important given both a train’s immense mechanical power and a child’s natural curiosity, and when those two factors interact, tragedy can occur.  To avoid this, share with them the following four things every young person should know about railroad crossing safety:

1. Know What Trains Are – Children should understand that unlike cars, trains can’t brake quickly to a stop because of their enormous weight and mass.  A single locomotive can weigh as much as 250 tons, and a train often has three or more such engines pulling its freight.  Combine this with the fact that each car, when fully loaded, weighs 80-90 tons and it becomes clear why trains take such a long time to stop once they’re in motion.  A fully loaded train moving at 60 mph will need at least the length of a football field, 100 yards, to come to a halt.  Because of this, it’s vital for kids to remember that the best railroad crossing safety practice is to stay away from trains altogether.  Even ones that are not moving at the time may start up unexpectedly.

2. Know When a Train is Coming – Kids should learn that it’s always train time.  Railroad lines do not always run on a set schedule, and railways serve the needs of industry, which can change on a day-by-day basis.  Because of this, it’s impossible to know when a train might be just around the corner.  Trains also tend to appear further away than they really are, so it’s difficult to judge the distance from them with the naked eye.  An important principle of railroad crossing safety is that when they see tracks, kids should always assume a train is on its way.

3. Know What to Do Around Trains – The safest thing for children to do around trains is to stay away from them.  There’s always the chance that a train might derail, which could scatter debris across miles of land, and if this happens, nowhere that’s in sight of the wreckage will be a safe place to take shelter.  Kids shouldn’t just stay off the tracks; they should stay away from them altogether.  Adults must teach their children that walking beside or on the tracks is unsafe as well, and that walking on trestles is even more dangerous, as there’s nowhere to run if a train should appear. 

4. Know What to Do if a Car Stalls on Train Tracks – If a child sees a car stalled on train tracks, he or she should notify a responsible adult immediately – police or other public safety officials if possible.  Children should never approach the stalled vehicle alone.  If a child is riding in a car that stalls on the tracks, he or she should know to get out of the car right away, without stopping to look around the interior or trunk for personal belongings.  If a train is coming at the same time that the car has stalled, children should know to move quickly away from the tracks and towards the approaching locomotive.  This will minimize the odds that they are struck by the train, should it derail upon hitting the car.

Teaching children the basics of railroad crossing safety falls on every adult, and the amount of time invested in these efforts will help to prevent accidents involving children and trains.  Practice good railroad crossing safety yourself to set a positive example, and discourage children from imitating those who engage in dangerous behavior around trains.  For more information or for safety products concerning both railroad crossings and other parts of the road, contact Impact Recovery today.