July 2016: Railroad Crossings
About Every 3 Hours a Person or Vehicle Is Hit By a Train
In 1972, when the Railroad Industry established Operation Lifesaver, there were approximately 12,000 collisions between trains and motor vehicles annually. By 2014, according to preliminary statistics, the number of train/motor vehicle collisions had been reduced by about 81%.
According to FRA statistics, 2,059 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2015. Approximately 67% of all the 2015 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in these 15 states.
The motoring public needs to be aware of the hazards presented at railroad crossings. Trains always come out ahead in a collision, even when a train engineer sounded the train’s whistle.
Be aware that:
- Most collisions occur with trains traveling less than 30 mph.
- Over 60% happen during daylight hours.
- Nearly 50% of collisions occur at crossings equipped with automatic warning devices.
- 25% of the collisions involve the vehicle running into the train.
- Trains and cars don’t mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
- The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
- Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields!
- Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
- Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
- If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
- At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
- When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from the tracks.
- ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
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