Safety Considerations at Railroad Crossings

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We hear reports of train accidents involving cars as, well as those that involve pedestrians, on almost a daily basis. In most cases, these are avoidable incidents that could have been prevented by using common sense and exercising caution when approaching the railroad crossings. Quite often they are the result of a driver or pedestrian attempting to beat the train, but it's important to note that tran-vs-car accidents are not always the motorist's fault.

Safety Considerations

Anyone who is involved in a collision with a train has an increased chance of being killed when compared to a passenger car accident. In fact, a collision with a train increases the chances of death by 40 percent or more—this figure is, of course, higher when the collision involves a pedestrian and a train. Some of the safety tips a driver should keep in mind when he or she is near railroad crossings include the following:

  • Slow down when approaching railroad crossings and make sure you look both ways before attempting to cross the tracks.
  • Turn down the radio or stereo system so you can hear an approaching train.
  • Never attempt to cross the tracks if the red lights are flashing or the crossing arms are lowered.
  • Avoid stopping on the tracks—a train that is traveling at 50 miles per hour needs a mile and a half to stop.
  • At a "passive" crossing (no automatic boom gates or flashing lights), make SURE the tracks are clear before you attempt to cross. Never cross an active railroad crossing without being certain that it is clear. We recommend making a complete stop at these types of RR crossings.

Driving Safety Tips for Railroad Crossings

Achieving safety when approaching a railroad crossing is a combination of common sense and exercising extreme caution as we have already stated. Following some safety tips as defined below will prevent the unforeseen from happening.

  • Never attempt to drive around crossing gates that are already lowered—this is not only illegal, but it is also an extremely ill-advised move.
  • NEVER attempt to beat the train to the crossing.
  • If your car stalls at a crossing, get out of your vehicle and notify the police; if your car stalls on the tracks when a train is coming, get out of the vehicle and move to a safe spot. Many crossings have a red emergency button for you to use in this exact situation.
  • Always be on the lookout for a second train that may be approaching in either direction, especially on a multiple track crossing.
  • Be aware a train could come by on any track at any time, day or night.
  • Understand the train you are seeing is moving faster than you think; never proceed across the tracks until it passes. Never.
  • Only cross the tracks at designated areas.

Following the above safety tips can help drivers avoid possible collisions with trains. There are, unfortunately, occasions when faulty warning lights or signals are to blame. Other times the train conductor may be liable for a failure to sound the horn when approaching a blind curve.

Rasansky Law Firm has handled many lawsuits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area which involved train-vs-auto accidents. If you feel you have a case for personal injury or wrongful death because of a train accident, you are urged to seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

From the author: Train Accidents
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