It may seem easy to avoid a collision with a 200-ton locomotive, and yet a vehicle or pedestrian is hit by a train every three hours in the United States, according to Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit group that promotes railroad safety. Follow these tips and use extra caution the next time you find yourself at a railroad crossing.
Always Expect That A Train Is Coming
Trains always win: They always get the right of way, they don’t always follow set schedules, and they can move in any direction. Keep your wits about you and always expect that a train might be present and moving.
Stop, Look & Listen
Stay alert when crossing railroad tracks or standing close to a platform. Stop texting and remove your headphones any time you’re near the tracks.
With new technology, trains are quieter than ever, so lower your radio and listen closely as you approach a railroad crossing. Don’t rely on hearing a train horn to know if a train is coming; train operators do not always use their horn as a warning when approaching an intersection.
Give Them Space
A train can extend more than three feet beyond the rail in either direction; keep a healthy distance of at least 15 feet from the rails at all times.
Trains can be deceptive, too. If you see one in the distance, it’s probably moving much faster than it appears. Although you’ve seen it in action movies, never try to beat a train or drive around lowered gates. Even if the engineer sees you, a train can take up to a mile to stop once the emergency brakes are applied.
Be patient; after a train passes, wait for the gates to raise completely, since another train could be coming from the other direction. Proceed through the crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Don’t ever stop on the tracks.
Remember, train tracks are private property. Walking or playing on the tracks is trespassing—and dangerous! It’s also illegal and dangerous to cross train tracks, except at a designated pedestrian or road crossing.
Know What To Do In An Emergency
If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, exit immediately and run away from the tracks toward where the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction as the train is moving, it could push your vehicle and other debris toward you.
If you see a vehicle stopped on the tracks, immediately call 911 or the number on the Emergency Notification Sign posted near the crossing. It will list the crossing number and street so train operators can be notified as early as possible.
Staying protected behind the wheel involves both knowing these rules of the road and having quality car insurance coverage. Get a fast, free quote from GEICO today. For even more safe-driving tips, check out the Car Safety & Insurance section on GEICO More.
By Nathan Erb