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Train Safety Tips

a car parked on the side of a road

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there are approximately 5,800 accidents involving cars and trains each year. Most of those accidents happen at railroad crossings. Many drivers don’t realize the sheer size and speed a train is traveling at, and what it takes for them to stop in time.

The average freight train consists of 100 cars and can weight upwards of 15 million pounds. Traveling at an average of 60 mph, it takes far more time for a train to react and stop to Whether it’s from faulty equipment or inattentive driving, there are a right and a wrong way to approach a railroad crossing to reduce the risk of an accident.

During Rail Safety Week, we turned to Operation Life Saver for some railroad safety tips that every person should know.


Never drive around lowered gates
Whether you see the train or not, driving around lowered gates is illegal and potentially deadly. Trains cannot stop quickly and are often closer and moving faster than you realize.

Avoid stopping on the tracks
rains don’t run on a schedule. If you are approaching a railroad crossing, don’t proceed over the tracks unless you are sure you can cross them before a train should arrive.  If it’s heavy traffic and you can’t move ahead without clearing the tracks, wait.

Get out of the car
If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out and move away from the tracks, even if you don’t see a train. Go to the Emergency Notification System sign nearest the crossing and call the number on the sign, alerting the railroad that there’s a stalled vehicle on the tracks.

Look both ways
Just like crossing the street when you’re walking, the same principle applies when crossing a railroad crossing. Look both ways and as quickly and safely as possible, move across the tracks without stopping.

Watch for a second train
At a railroad crossing with multiple tracks, wait for the train to pass and then look for a second train that could be approaching from either direction.

See tracks, think trains
Whether a train operates on a set schedule or not, with trains operating quieter, the possibility that equipment might not be working correctly at the crossing when you come upon a set of tracks and look both ways.


For more railroad safety tips, visit


Written by: Jan Padron, marketing communication director

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