Over 2,000 people are killed or injured at railroad crossings each year, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Each year, more people are hurt by trains than in all airplane accidents combined.
A passenger vehicle stands little chance against a fully-loaded freight train, and an unprotected pedestrian or bicyclist has even less. Whether you are walking, biking or driving, you can practice simple safety tips in order to stay safer at railroad crossings. Here are four ways to protect yourself and those you love, courtesy of experienced Texas car accident lawyers:
- Stop, listen and look both ways – twice. Turn down the radio or air conditioning and listen carefully for bells and whistles as you approach a railroad crossing. Look for lights, crossing guards or oncoming trains. Assume any train you see is closer to you and moving faster than it appears to be.
- Leave plenty of space. Trains may hang over the sides of railroad tracks up to three feet on each side. Leave at least 15 feet between your vehicle and the tracks when you stop for a train. Keep a safe following distance between your car and any vehicle in front of you in order to prevent a rear-end accident.
- Never downshift, try to pass another vehicle or cut around crossing gates to beat a train. Whether you are on foot or in a vehicle, always play it safe and wait for the train to pass before going through the crossing. Use only the designated railroad or pedestrian crossing in order to cross the tracks.
- Assume “any time is train time.” Always assume a train could be coming, and check accordingly – even if you don’t think a train is scheduled for that time or the crossing gate is not down.