Railroad crossings are potential sites of serious accidents due to the significant size and speed differences between trains and vehicles. Trains, much larger and faster than they often appear from a distance, can’t stop quickly. This makes it crucial for motorists to exercise extreme caution at these crossings.
In 2022, in Kentucky alone, 41 train collisions occurred resulting in 10 injuries and 4 fatalities. These circumstances highlight the real dangers present at these intersections.
Safety is critical
The primary danger lies in the inability of trains to stop quickly or change course. Combined with limited visibility at many crossings and the distractions inside a car, these factors can create a dangerous situation for drivers. Awareness and adherence to safety protocols are essential for preventing accidents at railroad crossings and protecting motorists and train passengers.
Always expect a train
One of the cardinal rules for safe travel around railroad tracks is to always expect a train. Trains can come from either direction at any time and are often faster than they appear. Don’t rely on hearing a train. Modern trains can be surprisingly quiet.
Obey all signals and gates
Always obey these signals. Never try to cross when a train approaches. It’s unsafe and illegal to go around lowered gates or ignore flashing lights. Even if a train has just passed, wait until the gates are fully raised and the lights have stopped flashing before proceeding because a train could be coming from the opposite direction.
Stay alert and avoid distractions
Staying alert and avoiding distractions is crucial when approaching and crossing railroad tracks. This means not using mobile devices, listening to loud music or engaging in other activities that could divert a driver’s attention. Be especially cautious in bad weather or crossings that lack gates and lights. Immediately exit a vehicle if it gets stuck on the railroad tracks.
Victims of crashes between vehicles and trains often suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical care. Seeking compensation from a liable party can help victims to cover their losses.