Nearly 2,000 Americans are killed or seriously injured in collisions with trains every year, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. On average, a person is hit by a train every 115 minutes, and more injuries are suffered in crashes at railroad crossings than in airplane accidents.
As many Texas car accident lawyers know, most collisions occur when the train is traveling less than 35 miles per hour and is already in the intersection. Drivers can do much to protect themselves and their passengers by practicing safety at railroad crossings. Here are four ways to drive more safely around trains.
- Look and listen for trains. Assume that a train could be on the tracks at any time. As you approach a crossing, turn down the radio, listen for whistles or bells, and watch for flashing lights.
- Pay attention to the vehicle you are following. Some vehicles, like school buses and trucks carrying hazardous materials, must stop at all railroad crossings. Keep a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you, and be prepared to stop at a crossing.
- Stay 15 to 50 feet from the tracks. Trains may hang over the sides of the track up to three feet on each side. Make sure there is plenty of room between the front of your vehicle and the tracks.
- Never try to “beat” a train across the tracks. Trains often look as if they are further from the crossing and moving more slowly than they really are. Always err on the side of caution and wait for a train to pass before you cross the tracks.