When your vehicle runs over and crushes a soda can, it's due to a 4,000-to-1 weight ratio. That's the exact same weight ratio of a moving freight train striking your vehicle.
Clearly, a collision at a rail crossing is significantly more likely to be fatal than a collision elsewhere.
What's more, data shows that every three hours in America, a train hits either a person or a vehicle—with many of those incidents occurring at grade crossings.
With over 200,000 railroad crossings nationwide, every fleet manager should take time to remind their drivers to be cautious when driving over them. The Illinois Chapter of Operation Lifesaver and the National Safety Council offer the following advice for staying safe when driving near and around railroad crossings:
- Never try to beat a train: Freight trains can take over a mile to fully stop.
- Slow down: Never speed over the grade in an attempt to get the vehicle airborne.
- Be aware: Expect a train on any track at any time of the day or night.
- Never stop on the tracks: If the lights begin to flash as you are crossing the tracks continue across.
- Never drive around gates: Wait until the gates are raised, the lights stop flashing and it is clear in both directions to cross.
- Stay alert: If there are two or more tracks, watch out for a second or third train.
- Beware of other drivers: Watch for vehicles, such as buses, that are required to stop at crossings.
- Use extra caution at night: And also in bad weather when visibility may be compromised.
- Use all of your senses: Always look and listen. Use common sense.
- Never put yourself in an unsafe position: If your car ever stalls on the tracks, get out. Find the blue sign posted that identifies the crossing number, and call the railroad so that trains in the vicinity can be alerted as soon as possible.
To learn more, watch a video about safety at rail crossings from the council and Illinois Chapter of Operation Lifesaver.