In 2018 alone, 99 people—a 10-year high—lost their lives because a motorist went around a lowered gate at a railroad crossing.
In fact, in the U.S., every four hours an individual or a vehicle is hit by a train and the majority of the incidents happen at a grade crossing, where the tracks meet the road.
September 22-28 is National Rail Safety Week and a fitting time to remind your drivers how to stay safe when driving near or across train tracks. Most fatalities involving trains are preventable and involve lapses of judgment, according to the National Safety Council, so reminding commercial drivers to be vigilant makes smart sense.
Every roadway-rail crossing fatality is preventable when drivers adhere to the following extra precautions:
- Never try to a beat a train. When traveling at 55 mph, it takes a train at least a mile to come to a full stop.
- Slow down and yield when approaching a crossing. It’s not just a safety precaution; it’s the law.Stop behind the solid white line or at least 15 feet from the crossing.
- Never stop on the tracks. If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out immediately, walk to safety and call 911.
- Keep your vehicle off the tracks whenever the lights are on or the gate is down—even if you do not see a train approaching.
- Be aware that trains can suddenly appear at anytime of day or night.
- Be extra alert if there are two or more tracks—a second or third train may be approaching.
- If a gate is malfunctioning or there is a hazard on the tracks, look for the sign that identifies that rail crossing then call the toll-free number on it to report the problem. More than 210,000 railroad crossings in the U.S. now feature such signage.