How savvy are you with the meaning of railroad signs? Thanks to a collection of signs and symbols like the cross buck, flashing lights, crossing gates and different types of automatic warning devices, railroad crossings are easy to spot and identify (aside from the big ol’ tracks on the ground). Despite these measures, authorities are unrelenting in efforts to educate pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists on how to ensure their safety when approaching a railroad crossing.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least one train collision involving a vehicle or pedestrian occurs every 100 minutes. There are more deaths associated with railroad accidents than with commercial airline crashes. To help reduce the rate of railroad crashes and fatalities, all road users have a crucial role to play in ensuring their safety while approaching railroad crossings.
If diligently observed, following railroad safety tips for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists will help to drastically reduce the rate at which railroad crashes occur.
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- Always expect to see a train anytime you approach a railroad crossing regardless of established schedules. Passenger train schedules in particular are known to change on occasion and their is also the fact that freight trains generally don’t have fixed schedules.
- Pedestrians, especially school children, should avoid walking on railway tracks and should instead use he designated walk ways. Not only is it illegal to cross, it is also dangerous and can result in severe injury and death in some cases.
- Always remember that trains have right of way over vehicles and pedestrians at all instances. This is irrespective of the fact that the vehicle may be an emergency vehicle or a police patrol car.
- Always remember that a train is more or less a juggernaut that moves with high momentum and is actually moving faster than it appears to be doing. Never risk your life by putting your vehicle in danger of being hit by a train. The outcome is better imagined than experienced.
- While approaching a railroad crossing, tap on your brakes to see that they are okay. Always stop at a reasonably safe distance from the crossing gates if you have to wait for a train to pass.
- Never try to circumvent a crossing gate. Not only is it risky, it is also illegal in some states.
- Avoid wearing headphones and looking at the mobile phone while around railway tracks and railroad crossings. In this way, you can be more alert to the surroundings.
- Always obey railroad warning signs and symbols. Stop when required to stop and cross only when it is absolutely safe to do so.
- When riding a bicycle, it is better to walk across a railroad crossing. Riding across presents the risk of having the wheel of your bicycle stuck between the tracks.
- Only cross the railway at designated railroad crossings. In fact, crossing at any point other than the railroad crossing is considered as trespassing and is illegal and actionable.
There is no end to the amount of precaution we can take to stay safe at railroad crossings. Just remember that in most cases, you are ultimately responsible for your safety and that of others around you. While trains can stop or steer out of your way, you can.