When motorists think of traffic, they visualize various types of automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles. Rarely do they consider the train a part of the vehicular hazards of driving. However, unlike cars or trucks, trains weigh millions of pounds and when traveling at 55 mph, may take up to a mile to come to a stop. This means that avoiding a car accident with a train amounts to just one single thing: staying out of their way. Here are three tips for doing exactly that:

Assumptions About Trains Can Kill

Railroad tracks aren’t like highway lanes. Trains can travel in either direction on them. Railroads are too costly to construct two sets for trains going in opposite directions. Instead, trains can travel in either of two possible directions on a track. Don’t get into the habit of looking in only one direction at a railroad crossing simply because the last few trains came that way.

Unlike passenger trains, freight trains don’t run on fixed schedules. This means that looking at your watch is no substitute for looking both ways before crossing a railroad track. Lights can burn out and electrical systems can fail. Therefore, the person crossing railroad tracks without looking because the lights aren’t flashing or the gates are wide open means that someday he may become a car/train collision statistic.

Never Stop on a Railroad Track

When a traffic light or backed up traffic forces you to stop, never do this on a railroad track. The cars in front and behind you will box you in should a train approach. Trains can be six feet wider than the track. Allow plenty of space between your car and the track. Stop with the track in front of you when the available space on the far side (in the case of backed up traffic) looks tight.

Never Race a Train or Cross the Track in Front of One

Racing a train is risking your life. The same is true of crossing between the barrier gates and across the tracks when a train approaches. The train’s large size makes their speed difficult to assess. Yes, waiting for a long train to pass is inconvenient. But which of your priorities is higher, convenience or your life?

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