Railway safety may seem like common sense, but an alarmingly high number of drivers are not completely up-to-speed on train track regulations and safety standards. In a competition between a car versus train, there’s really no contest. In the event of a train-automobile crash, the force at which the train would crush the car is equal to the force of a car crushing an aluminum drink can. And this happens approximately every three hours: a person or vehicle being struck by a train.
So how do we prevent these types of crashes from happening? The first step is educating drivers of railway safety tips. Here are a few things to keep in mind when near tracks:
- Watch for passive and active traffic control devices located near railways – which are meant to warn and guide nearby traffic. Passive signs do not move or light up, so they may be more difficult to notice if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings. Active sign examples include crossing arms that lower upon a train approaching or signs that light up at the approach of a train. The most common sign locations include before the crossing, on the road, at the crossing, devices at the crossing, and signs along the railroad property alerting other vehicles and pedestrians of railways. Here’s a list of railway signs and what you should do when approaching each.
- Trains may not always travel on fixed schedules – or in the same directions as the last.
- Trains cannot swerve or stop quickly. The average train weight is about 400,000 pounds, so stopping that sort of weight takes time and effort.
- Trains always have the right of way over vehicles, pedestrians, ATVs, etc. It is your responsibility to allow trains to pass first.
- Only cross train tracks at designated locations, whether you’re driving a vehicle or walking.
- Do not use your cellphone, headphones, or other methods of distraction while around railroad tracks. Distraction is the easiest way to be involved in a train crash.
The most full-proof method of avoiding a train collision is to always expect a train at highway-railway intersections as you approach: See Tracks? Think Train!