About every two hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is struck by a train. Shocking statistic, huh? To protect yourself and the passengers in your vehicle, read the advice below and freshen up on your railroad crossing safety smarts.
Operation Safety, an organization that works to raise awareness of the need for caution around railroad tracks and trains, provided the following tips:
Slow down. Slick or gridlocked roads hamper safety.
Watch for Advance Warning signs (a yellow sign with R X R) indicating railroad tracks cross the road ahead. Be prepared to slow down or stop before the crossing.
Know that trains are wider than their tracks. If you stop near or at a crossing, be sure you are at least 15 feet from the tracks, and guard against an icy slide onto tracks or into the path of the train.
Leave extra stopping space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In inclement weather conditions avoid sliding into the crossing or another vehicle, whether on foot or in a car. These are marked with either a crossbuck symbol, flashing red lights or a gate.
Remember the basic laws of physics: heavy steel-wheeled trains cannot stop as quickly as rubber-wheeled cars.
Look both ways. Turn your head to see around mirrors, passengers, and any visual obstructions inside the car. Clean off all snow and ice that might block vision before you drive -- including snow on the roof and hood that can slide or blow onto your windows or those of cars behind you.
Listen. Snow and heavy rain can muffle the sound of an approaching train. Crack the window, lower the sound of the radio and the heater, and hang up the cell phone.
Obey lights and controls at railroad crossings. If the lights or gates appear to be malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number displayed on signs near the crossing to notify the railroad.
Watch for the "second train." One train may have passed but another could be behind it, or coming from the opposite direction on the next track. Always look both ways.
If your vehicle gets stuck on a railroad crossing, quickly exit the vehicle, move away from the track, and call 911 or the railroad number displayed on the sign at the crossing. Mention any nearby landmarks, particularly the "DOT" number displayed at the crossing if you can see it.