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Did You Know? Rail Crossing Safety

October 3rd 2022

A new campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds motorists to stop because trains require far more distance and time to stop. A freight train can take up to a mile or more to stop. And a light rail train may require approximately 600 feet [1].

In the United States, injuries and deaths occur at rail crossings every day. In 2021, more than 1,600 collisions occurred between vehicles and commuter trains, and almost 500 at transit train crossings in 2020 [1].

In Canada, in 2020, 965 rail accidents were reported to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Thirteen percent (129 of 965) of rail accidents involved vehicles or pedestrians at rail crossings. Furthermore, 18 persons were fatally injured in 2020 due to crossing accidents [2].

When navigating rail crossings NHTSA recommends remembering the following [1]:

  1. Stop, look both ways and listen. Trains have the right of way.
  2. Do not stop on the tracks. Once in the crossing, keep moving.
  3. Stop 15 feet away from flashing lights, lowered gates, a flagman, or a stop sign.
  4. Never go around lowered gates or ignore signals.
  5. Wait for the gates to fully rise to initiate and complete your crossing.
  6. Do not assume there is only one train coming from a single direction.
  7. If your car stalls on the tracks, get everyone out of the car as soon as possible, even if you cannot see a train coming. Call for help.

Always expect a train.


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