Be Safe Around Trains and Tracks

Friday, 26 Feb 2010 11:30 AM

By Bruce Mandelblit

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The past few days have been a deadly time for teens and trains.

Two teenage girls in Pennsylvania were killed when a train hit them as they walked along railroad tracks, and three teens died in Florida after a train hit them on a trestle bridge.

 In 2006, almost2,900 collisions involving trains caused about 360 deaths and about 1,000 injuries, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

Here are some ideas you can use to help make your crossing of railroad tracks safer.

1. Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the toll-free number posted on or near the crossing signal, contact your local law enforcement agency, or dial 911.

2. Never race a train to the crossing. Even if you tie, you lose.

3. Do not get trapped on a crossing. Proceed through a crossing only if you are sure you can cross the entire track.

4. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.

5. At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch for a second train on the other track, approaching in either direction.

6. Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That is at least 18 football fields!

7. Do not be fooled by the optical illusion — 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.

Quick Security Tip: Always expect a train! Freight trains do not follow a set schedule.

Tips For Pedestrians:

1. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property, and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.

Quick Security Tip: Since 1990, there have been about 3,700 people killed while trespassing on railroad rights-of-way and property.

2. Do not walk, run, cycle, or operate all-terrain vehicles on railroad tracks and property, or through tunnels.

3. Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe all warning signs and signals.

4. Do not hunt, fish, or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on tracks for a train to pass. They are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges.

5. Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb — or worse!

Quick Security Tip: Rails and recreation do not mix.

For more information on this important topic, log on to the “Operation Lifesaver’s” Web site at www.oli.org.

My Final Thoughts: The average train weighs about 12 million pounds — so the ratio to the typical automobile is about 4,000 to 1. That is the same ratio of your car to a soda can.

The odds are not in your favor. You simply cannot win if it’s you or your vehicle verses a train.

So, please, heed Operation Lifesaver’s simple words of railroad safety wisdom — Look, Listen and Live!


Copyright 2010 by Bruce Mandelblit

Bruce (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.


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