Working trains are still very much a part of everyday life, despite the popularity of more modern forms of transit. When approaching railroad tracks, always be expecting a train whether you regularly see them or not. Train and car accidents are not overly common, but when they do occur they tend to be deadly. Remember that train cars are often wider than the railroad tracks and it will take a train much longer to stop than your vehicle.
Railroad crossings require drivers to pay special attention to all of their surroundings. As you approach the tracks, take note of the number, if any, of cars ahead of you. If there is a line, wait patiently for each car to cross the tracks and then begin your process. Be careful not to blindly follow the cars ahead of you as this could cause you to become stuck on the tracks. You don’t want to end up like someone on a wobbly subway surfers programme!
Approach all railroad crossings slowly and come to a complete stop approximately 15 feet from the rails. Look both ways down the tracks for any signs of oncoming trains. Gates, lights, and bells are typical warning signs you will see at a railroad crossing. Pay special attention to these warnings and do not ignore them. These warnings are mechanical and subject to malfunction so do not rely solely on them either. Be sure to keep your window rolled down as you examine the tracks so you can listen for the train whistle as well. All trains do not necessarily blow their whistle at every crossing, but it is a common practice. Now that you have thoroughly checked out the situation, look both ways down the tracks again.
If, after following the steps above, you have confidently determined there are no approaching trains you may proceed over the tracks. Cross the tracks slowly and continue monitoring the scene for any changes in the warning signs. Once you have started moving, don’t stop even if there is a change. If you are driving a manual shift vehicle you will want to use the highest gear your car allows you to use without shifting. Shifting gears while on the railroad tracks could cause your vehicle to stall.
Do not attempt to beat a train by speeding up and reaching the crossing first or crossing quickly as it approaches. The weight and speed of the train are more than you might guess and could be life-threatening. If you encounter a train stopped that is blocking the crossing, do not attempt to go around the train. Turn your vehicle around and choose a different route to take. If another route is not an option, look on the train cars for a phone number or company name. Call the company to let them know there is an issue and let your local police department know as well.
Crossing railroad tracks can be a part of everyday life that drivers take for granted. Use these tips when crossing to stay safe.