Protect yourself and your family from avoidable accidents
Editorial by AlertID
A commuter train collided with an SUV Tuesday evening in Valhalla, New York. Officials said six people were killed and at least a dozen were injured after the third rail breached the train's interior and blasted flames into the front two cars. According to eyewitness reports, this fatal accident might have been the fault of the driver who stopped on the crossing.
In 2014, railroad transportation accounted for nearly 600 million miles and more than 31 million unique passengers. The unfortunate statistic is that there were approximately 620 railway deaths last year and nearly 96 percent of them were trespassing or crossing related. A Federal Railroad Administration spokesperson said, "Safety is our highest priority at the FRA. Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, and we are addressing the problem directly through education."
AlertID advises the following tips to stay safe when near a highway-railway crossing:
1. Always expect a train
Freight trains do not follow set schedules, so you should always expect a train.
2. Trains always have the right-of-way
Trains have the right-of-way at crossings over emergency vehicles, cars, the police and pedestrians. Motorists have to interpret warning signs, watch for dangerous conditions, determine if trains are approaching and estimate train speeds.
3. Trains and cars don't mix
Never race a train to the crossing - even if you tie, you lose. The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds (200 tons); it can weigh up to 6,000 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car.
4. Never drive around lowered gates
Not only is this illegal, but it's deadly. Call the 1-800 number posted near the crossing if you suspect a signal is malfunctioning.
5. Don't get trapped on the tracks
Proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you're sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark.
6. Leave now
If your vehicle ever stalls on a track, get out of the car immediately and move quickly away from the tracks.
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