Articles

RAILROAD CROSSING!
Look Out For Cars. Can You Spell That Without Any Rs?
By Ginger Lane

Make sure you talk to your children. Tracks are no place to play and teen drivers please beware! ANYTIME IS TRAIN TIME!

My sister, Debby, was picking berries by the tracks one time. There was a train coming and she thought she made sure she was a good distance away. The train was barely moving and she kept picking berries. An arm like thing was sticking out from the train and my sister did not get quite far enough away, so, yep, she got hit by a train. It was only her arm, but I remember the huge bruise she had forever. Thank God, that is all that happened. She was a grown woman at the time so anyone is capable of a lapse in judgment or distance. Keep your kids safe from trains. Plus, if you do something like get hit by a train, if you live, you will never live it down! (Right, Debby?)

And, I am grateful that most railroad crossings have the automatic lights and safety arms railroad crossingnow, but there are still many that dont. And, one in particular that Ive been crossing lately is in Grand Saline. Its in the downtown area, so there is quite a line of traffic when Ive had to cross.

Heres the problem. If you are going with the flow of traffic, then slowing down and making sure there is not a train can be quite a trick when nobody else in town is. You could end up with the guy behind you in your back seat. Im not sure how they know there is no train on that track. It is, for sure, still operational and used.

I was wondering if the rules have changed about stopping before crossing, because they dont do that there. I found no new information or secrets to know if there is one coming or not. YOU HAVE TO STOP AND LOOK. Its always a good time to refresh your safety thinking so here are some interesting facts from http://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/videoresource/fsrailroadcross.pdf.

A train hits someone in America every 115 minutes, often with fatal results. According to Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profit organization, nearly 2,000 Americans are killed and injured at highway/rail grade crossings each year. This number is greater than people dying in commercial and general aviation crashes combined. In 2003, 2,919 collisions occurred at railroad crossings resulting in 324 deaths. (Federal Railroad Administration.) The majority of collisions between trains and motor vehicles occur when trains are traveling at less than 35 mph. In a quarter of all collisions, the train is already in the crossing when the car hits it. Since nearly two-thirds of all collisions occur during daylight hours, in crossings equipped with automatic warning devices, driver inattention must be the major cause.

The average train weighs 12 million pounds, so the weight ratio of a train to a car is about 4,000 to one. This compares to the weight ratio of a car to an aluminum can. The same thing happens to the car hit by a train as happens to a can run over by a car it gets squashed. A train traveling at 50 mph, pulling 100 cars, takes one mile to stop, so in a contest between a car and a train, the train always wins. The motorist in a train/motor vehicle collision is 40 times more likely to die than in a collision between two motor vehicles. Unfortunately, commercially licensed truck and semi-trailer drivers were involved in 24 percent of train/motor vehicle collisions in 1998. After a tractor-trailer comes to a stop at a railroad crossing, it takes 27 seconds to cross the track at 2 mph. A train traveling at 41 mph covers 660 feet in 11 seconds, which is as far up the tracks as the truck driver can see. Those who drive for a living must practice crossing safety.

Prevention
There are many simple and life-saving practices to help you avoid a confrontation with a train at a railroad crossing.
  Remember that any time is train time.
  Slow down when approaching a railroad crossing and look both ways TWICE!
  Never race a train to cross the tracks.
  Never pass another vehicle within 100 feet of a railroad crossing.
  Watch out for vehicles that MUST stop at railroad crossings, like school buses or trucks carrying hazardous materials.
  When approaching a crossing, roll down your windows, turn off the radio or air conditioner, and listen for whistles or bells
  Always yield to flashing lights, whistles, closing gates, cross bucks or stop signs.
  Never shift gears on the railroad crossing, downshift before you reach it.
  If you must stop, keep a distance of 15 to 50 feet from the tracks. Since the tracks are four feet eight and a half inches wide, and the train hangs three feet past the rails on each side, be sure to leave enough space between your vehicle and the tracks.
  Teach children that the railroad is never a place to play, walk, run, bike ride, or use as a short cut. Dont fish from railroad bridges either.
  Always cross the tracks at the designated railroad crossing or pedestrian crossing.
  Only use the crossing if you can be sure your vehicle is high enough to completely clear the railroad crossing without stopping.
  Dont be fooled by the optical illusion presented by the train. It is always moving faster and is much closer than you think.