National Rail Safety Week is September 19-25, 2022. The Louisiana State Police is partnering with Louisiana Operation Lifesaver and local law enforcement agencies to bring awareness to railroad safety.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in 2021, 2,145 motor vehicle crashes occurred at public rail grade crossings resulting in 236 deaths and another 668 people injured. In Louisiana alone, there were 23 crashes involving trains, which resulted in 13 fatalities and ten injuries. From 2016 to 2020, 1,620 collisions occurred when drivers went around or through a lowered gate, accounting for 21% of all crashes. 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. 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, exit immediately and move quickly away from the tracks. You should run 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 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 struck 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 www.laoperationlifesaver.org
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