According to Operation Lifesaver, an average of eight collisions between trains and motorists occur every day. Over 350 people are killed each year, and about 1,000 are seriously injured. A motorist is 40 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision with a train than in a collision with another motor vehicle.
· Look, Listen and Live is the basic rule. Obey all highway-rail crossing signs and signals.
· Don’t rely on warning signals. They could be broken. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, or if you feel vision at the crossing is restricted, e.g., high weeds, call the police or the railroad. You may want to find another route.
· Expect a train any time. Most trains don’t follow set schedules.
· As you approach a railroad crossing: slow down when you see the R X R advance warning sign; open a window; turn off the radio and fan; stop talking; look both ways; and listen for a train whistle.
· You must stop if red warning lights are flashing; warning bells are ringing; there’s a STOP sign, or the gates are lowered. It’s the law. NOTE: More than half of all train-vehicle crashes occur when a driver disregards flashing red lights or gates that warn of a coming train.
· Never race a train to a crossing. Always assume you’ll lose.
· Never stop on a crossing or shift gears. When traffic is heavy, wait until you are sure you can clear all of the tracks.
· If you start across the tracks and the warnings activate, continue to the other side. Don’t stop or attempt to back up.
· Watch out for a second train when crossing multiple tracks.
· Its large mass makes it difficult to judge the speed and distance of an oncoming train. Be careful.
· Remember, trains cannot stop quickly. It can take a mile or more to stop once the brakes are applied.
· Be doubly alert at night and in bad weather. Don’t overdrive your lights. In many nighttime collisions, cars run into trains.
· Many rail-car collisions occur near a driver’s home because people take a rail crossing for granted. Don’t fall into that trap. Build possible delays into your schedule.
· Keep alcohol, distractions and fatigue out of your car.
· If your car stalls on the tracks, get everyone out immediately and get a safe distance from the tracks. Call the police. If no train is coming, post lookouts and try to get the car off the tracks. Be ready to get away fast. If a train approaches, run toward the train to avoid flying debris.
In recent years, over 500 people have been killed annually while trespassing on railroad rights-of-way and property.
· Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks and property or through tunnels. Furthermore, these activities are against the law.
· Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe all warning signs and signals.
· Do not hunt or fish from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on tracks for a train to pass. They are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges.
· Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb.n
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.