Railroad safety is deadly serious, and drivers need to make sure they give trains the respect they deserve. But railroad safety is more than just respecting trains — it is also following all the laws and regulations in place to keep you safe around a railroad crossing.
The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to railroad safety is that the only safe place to cross a track is at designated railroad crossings. Crossing anywhere else is dangerous and considered trespassing. You can be ticketed and fined if you cross a track, whether it is in a vehicle or on foot, anywhere but a designated railroad crossing.
If you live near a track, you may know the rules, but might also be tempted to bend them a little if you are in a hurry. For example, if you see the railroad crossing arm begin to come down, you might be tempted to rush around to the other side. Don’t. That is dangerous and putting your life and your passenger’s lives in danger.
Just because a railroad crossing becomes routine or familiar doesn’t mean it is any safer.
Keep in mind, it can take trains up to a full mile to stop once the emergency brake is pulled, so don’t expect the engineer to be able to stop for you if you speed around a rr crossing arm.
Just staying off the tracks isn’t enough, either. A train can overhang the tracks by three feet on either side, so give them wide berth.
Even after the train has passed, don’t try to cross until the railroad crossing arm is raised. That’s because another train may be coming from the other direction.
Don’t count on a set schedule for determining if a train is likely. Remember, “any time is train time.”
Know your railroad crossing sign
There are plenty of signs that a train is imminent – flashing railroad crossing lights, a lowered rr crossing arm, or a train horn are all obvious signs. But not every rr crossing has every one of those features. However, most have a railway crossing sign, so keep your eye peeled.
The bare minimum railroad crossing sign can either be the familiar circular yellow rr crossing sign with the black X across the face, but it can also be a white sign in the shape of an X with black lettering.
Some times the rr crossings are marked by painted pavement on the roadway approaching the railroad crossings.
Special railroad crossing rules
You may find yourself wondering what vehicles must stop at all railroad crossings. And while the laws vary by state, a few things are common nearly everywhere you live.
School buses, and in many cases, any vehicle carrying passengers for hire almost always have to stop at all railroad crossings. Fuel trucks and vehicles carrying explosives typically also have to stop at railroad crossings regardless of whether there is a train approaching or not.
Railroad safety doesn’t end when you leave your vehicle either. Even on foot, stick to railroad crossings. If you find yourself asking is it illegal to walk on train tracks, keep in mind that railroads are private property. So, yes, walking on the tracks is considered trespassing.
Never walk along a railroad bridge or trestle, either. There isn’t enough space on them to avoid a train if it were to come midway through, almost inevitably leading to severe injury or death if you were caught on the track.
Don’t even thing about trying to hop aboard rail cars, either. Just a simple slip or a jolt of the train could mean you losing your limb, or worse.
So, stay railway smart — observe and obey every railroad crossing sign, stick to marked and designated railroad crossings, and give those iron horses the respect that they deserve.