Tags: Use | Caution | tracks

Use Caution When Crossing The Tracks

Friday, 16 May 2008 10:48 AM

By Bruce Mandelblit

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This time of year, most of us are outside more often. By car, motorcycle, bike or even on foot, we are likely to have contact with railroad crossings.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), in 2006 there were almost 2900 collisions involving trains that caused about 360 deaths and approximately 1000 injuries.

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

Tips For Driving:

1 -- 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, contact your local law enforcement agency, or dial 9-1-1.

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

3 -- Do not get trapped on a crossing. Only proceed through a crossing 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 out 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 miles per hour 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 (ATVs) 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 even worse!

Quick Security Tip: Rails and recreation DO NOT mix.

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

My Final Thoughts: The good news is that the FRA reports that over the last three years, train safety has improved. It’s important to note, however, the average train weighs about 12 million pounds -- so the ratio to the typical automobile is about 4000 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 2008 by Bruce Mandelblit

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