How drivers can stay safe at railroad crossings

Railroad crossings can be extremely dangerous, and poor choices from motorists can quickly lead to severe injuries or death. This year, between the beginning of January and the end of July, 35 highway-railroad incidents at public crossings occurred in Alabama, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis. Several of those incidents resulted in death.

As a driver, you can avoid getting involved in a highway-rail accident by practicing several safety precautions at every railroad crossing. While some of the safety precautions may seem intuitive, there may be a few on the list that that you hadn’t thought about.

Best safety practices at railroad crossings include:

  • Not engaging in horseplay or allowing passengers to engage in horseplay while driving, especially near railroad crossings
  • Never chasing a train or trying to beat a train through the crossing
  • Checking that there is enough room for your vehicle on the other side of the tracks before trying to cross
  • Being prepared to stop at crossings
  • Taking the extra time to look both ways and listen before crossing
  • Never stopping on the tracks

Accidents between motorists and trains are preventable. Make sure you take the time to ensure safety before crossing the tracks. Trains have much more trouble stopping than your vehicle does.

Why is this so important?

Injuries in these cases tend to be catastrophic or fatal. Some rail safety education materials compare a train hitting a car to a car hitting an aluminum soda can. This vivid image may help to remind you that a train is vastly bigger and more powerful than your car. Don’t try to outrun a train; it’s better to wait to cross until the train is safely down the tracks.

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