It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard to avoid getting into an accident with a train — after all, they do run on a fixed track.
Yet injuries and fatalities happen every day, especially when drivers take chances and go through a railroad crossing without sufficient caution. To remain safe, here’s a refresher course on how to navigate a railway crossing the safe way.
Stop, look and listen: Your keys to safety
For years, authorities have been reminding people to “stop, look and listen” when they approach a railway crossing in their car. In specific terms, this means:
- Always assume that a train is coming. When you approach a crossing, slow down and stop, even if you don’t see a train in sight. Stay at least fifteen feet from the rails before you determine that it’s safe to cross (because trains extend further out from the tracks than you think).
- Look both ways. Trains can be coming from either direction, so even if you have only ever seen a train moving down the tracks from the right, it’s a mistake not to look left, as well.
- Turn down the radio. Modern trains aren’t nearly as loud as those from bygone eras. If you can’t see around a curve or some foliage for a significant distance, roll down your window and listen for the sound of an oncoming train.
Once you start through the crossing, don’t slow down or stop — that’s the last place you want to be if a train does come through.
Your biggest danger might be other drivers
Unfortunately, not everybody has the common sense to exercise caution around a train. You could get rear-ended by another driver who doesn’t see the wisdom in slowing down (much less stopping) when you approach the tracks. You could also get clipped by an impatient driver who decides to dart around you while you wait for a train to pass.
If an accident with another driver or a train leaves you injured, you could be facing significant financial losses. An attorney can help you find out more about your right to pursue compensation.