Police Partnering in Rail Safety Week Provide Tips to Avoid a Collision

National Rail Safety Week is September 20-26, 2021. The Louisiana State Police is partnering with Louisiana Operation Lifesaver and local law enforcement agencies to bring awareness to railroad safety.

In 2020, 1,377 motor vehicle crashes occurred at public rail grade crossings resulting in 94 deaths and another 494 people injured. From 2016 to 2020, 1,620 collisions occurred when drivers went around or through a lowered gate, accounting for 21% of all collisions. These deaths were largely preventable and caused by risky driving behaviors and poor decision-making.

Here are a few tips that can keep you safe when approaching railroad grade crossings:

  • Look both ways and listen closely. This is important because trains may be traveling faster than they appear. They can also travel on any track, in any direction, at any time.
  • Trains and cars do not mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
  • Never drive around lowered gates — it is illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
  • 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.
  • 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 a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming.
  • If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • At a multiple-track crossing, 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 you should not stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
  • In case of an emergency, you can report it by calling the Emergency Notification System sign by calling the phone number listed, or by dialing 911.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.

Every four hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train. The goal of Rail Safety Week is to educate the general public to keep themselves safe near highway-rail grade crossings. For more information or to schedule railroad safety presentations visit the Louisiana Operation Lifesaver website at laoperationlifesaver.org.

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