Even in an emergency, a train can take a mile or more to stop. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the United States, someone is struck at a highway-rail grade crossing every four hours. Driving around gates is not only illegal, it could be deadly. If you try to beat a train, chances are, you’ll lose.
Navigating a train crossing in seven steps:
- Stop, look both ways, and listen. Remember that trains always have the right of way.
- Make sure you have room to get across. Once you enter the crossing, keep moving.
- Stop 15 feet away from flashing red lights, lowered gates, a signaling flagger, or a stop sign.
- Never try to drive around a lowering gate. Never ignore signals, and always use caution.
- Before you begin to cross, wait for gates to fully rise and for all lights to stop flashing.
- Never assume that there is only one train coming from a single direction.
- If your car stalls on a rail track, quickly get everyone out - even if you don’t see a train coming. Then, run away from the tracks and your car. Avoid running in the same direction that the train is coming, because you could be hit by flying debris if a train hits your car. When it’s safe to do so, call the number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign. If the sign is not visible to you, call 911.
A train will stop if there is a vehicle on the tracks, but not until after this happens.
So far in 2022, there have been 57 deaths in traffic crashes. That’s an increase of five since last Friday. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/stats/daily.pdf