In honor of Rail Safety Week, we are sharing “Track Safety Basics” from Rail Safety Educator, Operation Lifesaver, whose mission is to reduce collisions, fatalities, and injuries at highway-rail crossings and to prevent trespassing on or near railroad tracks. Together, we can save lives at railroad crossings and on tracks.

  1. Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains often change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection at any time.
  2. All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; it is illegal to trespass and highly dangerous. It takes the average freight train traveling 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  3. The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 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. We all know what happens to a soda can hit by a car.
  4. Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police, and pedestrians.
  5. A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark. If there are rails on the railroad ties, always assume the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks unused.
  6. Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes its cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled, which is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  7. Today’s trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Any approaching train is always closer, moving faster than you think.
  8. Remember to cross train tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals.
  9. Stay alert around railroad tracks. Refrain from texting, headphones, or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation.

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