Railroad tracks crisscross the country, and almost every town and village has at least one track that runs through the town. Experts, such as Clarence Gooden, know the importance of educating people about safety near railroad tracks to change their behavior when they see tracks.
Isn’t it a No-Brainer?
You may think it’s obvious that people should be careful around railroad tracks whether they are in a car or on foot. However, the number of accidents annually shows that many people are not careful. Operation Lifesaver is an example of a foundation that focuses on rail safety education. Statistics show that about every three hours a vehicle or person is hit by a train.
Safety at Rail Crossings
Rail crossings have signs and control devices to regulate, guide or warn traffic. Their aims are to alert drivers to railroad tracks and the possibility that a train is coming and to send a safety message that reminds drivers of the rules and laws connected with railroad highway crossings.
Safety for Pedestrians
Many people choose to walk or play near railroad tracks. However, this area is private property and off-limits to walkers. Some tips for pedestrian safety at railroad tracks are:
- Cross only at designated places. Any other place is private property and you could get a ticket or fine.
- The railroad yard, trestles, equipment and tracks are private property. You could be fined if you are not invited there by a railroad official.
- Trains need at least a mile and sometimes more to completely stop. If the operator unexpectedly sees something or someone on the tracks, it’s unlikely he will be able to stop the train in time.
- Trains overhang the tracks by three feet on each side, and some steps overhang even further.
- Once a train passes, it’s best to wait before crossing because there may be another train right behind that was waiting for the first train to pass.
- Flashing red lights and a dropping barrier mean a train is coming, and pedestrians should not walk around the barrier or lights.
- Railroad trestles are not meant for hunting, fishing or bungee jumping.
- Pedestrians should not try to hop on a moving train.
- Trains may not follow particular schedules. A train could be coming at any time. That is why Operation Lifesaver says See Tracks? Think Train.
Safety for Passengers
Rail transportation is the safest of all types of transportation. Some tips for passengers to stay safe are:
- Always be alert to the arrival of trains in a station. They will be coming from any direction.
- Remember the overhang is about three feet, so you need to stand away from the platform edge.
- Listen to any instructions from the conductor or operator and hold on to your seat.
- There is usually a gap between the train’s steps and the platform, so watch your step.
- Always follow the signs in a train station for the safe ways to cross the tracks. Short cuts are dangerous and illegal.
Whether you live in the U.S. or Canada, you can find a local branch of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. If you are a teacher, you’ll find lesson plans for your class. It’s worth taking the time to learn about all the safety tips for railroads for bicyclists, photographers and emergency responders.