The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the National Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA), has a message for drivers everywhere: You need to stop trying to beat the train when you’re at a crossing.
This year’s safety program, “Stop. Trains Can’t.,” is aimed at raising public awareness about the dangers of trying to rush through a rail-grade crossing — wherever you may be. Particular attention is being given to high-risk areas in certain states, however, including Texas.
While technology continues to improve everyone’s safety at railroad crossings, the reality remains that 75% of the deaths in 2019 at railroad crossings involved a driver who decided to skirt the crossing-gate arms and take their chances with an oncoming train.
The results are often horrific. In 2019 alone, 126 people died that way, and 635 more were injured.
The gist of the message is clear: When it comes to trains versus cars, the cars are always going to lose. A train can’t yield, so it’s up to a driver to be cautious. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The train is moving faster than you think. The size of the train, the narrow view you have as it moves and the angle of the tracks can all create an optical illusion that the train is further away and moving slower than it really is.
- Trains can move forward or backward at any time on the tracks. Don’t think it’s safe to skirt the barrier behind a stopped train, because that train may suddenly start to move in reverse and hit you.
- Don’t follow the crowd or give into pressure. So what if the driver in front of you took a chance and got across safely or the driver behind you is honking? Wait it out, and let other drivers make their own decisions. You can get trapped on the tracks by other vehicles, and that can lead to disaster.
Despite your best precautions, you can still end up in a wreck at a train crossing. Faulty lights, missing barriers and other problems can leave you facing unexpected dangers. If you’re hurt, or a loved one was killed, find out what it takes to pursue a claim for fair compensation.