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The Basics of Railroad Crossing Safety

Teaching the basics of railroad crossing safety is a crucial part of any accident prevention initiative.  A train’s sheer mass and power makes the odds of surviving a collision virtually nil.  Fortunately, these types of accidents can almost always be prevented by increasing public awareness.  With that in mind, here’s a look at the basics of railroad crossing safety.

Railroad Crossing Safety for Pedestrians

1.     Remember that trains can come along at any moment.  So never assume that the tracks will be safe at certain times of the day.  The rule of thumb is this: always assume a train is just around the corner, whether you see one or not.

2.     Never walk on railroad tracks.  Freight companies own train rights-of-way, making these corridors private property.  Not only is walking on them trespassing, but doing so also exposes the offender to serious danger.  Stay well away from the tracks.

3.     Remember that the average locomotive weighs almost half a million pounds.  This does not include the weight of any boxcars or goods that it may be pulling at a given time.  So respect the train’s power and never try to beat it across the tracks.  Trains always have the right-of-way; this is a basic principle of railroad crossing safety.

4.     The average train requires a minimum of 6000 yards to come to a complete stop.  This is the length of 20 football fields joined end-to-end.  Remember this when you see a train coming: a locomotive engineer rarely has any choice other than to keep moving, no matter what is on the tracks ahead.

5.     While trains are powerful, today’s models are much quieter compared to old-fashioned engines from the movies.  Don’t rely on the sound of a whistle or a “clackety-clack” noise to alert you that a train is coming.

6.     A train can extend three or more feet beyond the rails.  This is all the more reason to practice railroad crossing safety and stay clear of tracks at all times, whether driving or on foot.

7.     Walking on railroad trestles or in the middle of adjoining sets of tracks is extremely dangerous.  Should trains come from both directions, there’s simply not enough room in between for the average person to survive.

8.     When crossing railroad tracks on foot, look both ways twice before proceeding.  Keep your ears peeled for the sound of a locomotive and never linger on the tracks.

Railroad Crossing Safety for Motorists

1.     Always come to a complete stop at least 12 feet from the tracks.  This will give an approaching train enough room to pass by your vehicle safely.

2.     Before driving across the tracks, turn off radios or other media and silence your cell phone.  This will help to ensure that you hear an approaching locomotive.

3.     Open your vehicle’s windows and listen for the sound of a train before crossing the tracks.

4.     Always remember to look both ways before proceeding.  This is one of the most important tenets of railroad crossing safety.

5.     Should your vehicle stall on the tracks, exit the car immediately and get to a safe distance.  Don’t stop to retrieve purchased items or personal belongings.  Doing so may delay your escape long enough for a train to arrive.

6.     An emergency number is posted at most railroad crossings.  Should your car stall on the tracks, call this number right away to alert authorities.  If you don’t see a contact number, then contact local police or highway patrol officers; but get as far as possible from the tracks before doing so.

By following the railroad crossing safety principles in this post, drivers and pedestrians can avoid train-related accidents and promote everyone’s well-being.