Did you know? Every 3 hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. This startling statistic is why Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), the national rail safety education nonprofit, is working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other organizations to observe the first national Rail Safety Week (RSW), September 24-30, 2017.
The goal of RSW is to raise awareness across the United States of the need for rail safety education and empower the general public to keep themselves safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way. Do not be a statistic. The next time you encounter a railway crossing, keep these important safety tips from OLI in mind:
- Trains and cars don’t mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
- The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
- Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields!
- Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the emergency number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
- Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
- If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided, telling them about the stalled vehicle. If a train is approaching, run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45 degree angle. If you run in the same direction a train is traveling, you could be injured by flying debris.
- At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
- When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
- ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
For more information on Operation Lifesaver or Rail Safety Week visit www.oli.org/. You can also get social for Rail Safety Week by using #USRailSafetyWeek or #Railsafety hashtags.