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Keeping It Safe Near Train Tracks


When a high schooler drove his vehicle over the tracks one weekday morning, he could not have imagined that a light rail train would come smashing into the car, killing him on the scene.  Anne Arundel County law enforcement indicated that the gates had not completely come down and that the train operator may be at fault in the accident.

Seven Safety Tips 

There are plenty of rail tracks across this country, but most people don’t generally spend much time worrying about them. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these locations deserve special attention each and every time we come upon them:

  1. Stop, look, and listen: it’s advice as old as the tracks themselves. Never rely on external warnings alone to guide your progress across tracks, because there is always the possibility of a malfunction.
  2. Think about the number of trains–particularly freight trains,–that travel across multiple lines. Expect a train at any time.
  3. Don’t drive around the gates, even if they have been down for what seems an excessively long time with no sign of a train.
  4. Never get caught stopped on the tracks!  If you don’t have room to cross them due to traffic, then pause before getting to the tracks.
  5. If the gates have been lowered, there is a stop sign, there are red flashing lights, or there is a flagman indicating a train is near, stop 15 feet ahead of the tracks.
  6. Wait for flashing lights to go off and the gates to rise fully before proceeding across the tracks after a train has passed.
  7. If you find yourself stalled out on the tracks—get everyone out of the vehicle immediately and call 911.

Facts About Trains 

In case you think you might fare okay in an encounter with a train, consider these facts:

  • Trains these days are quieter than they were in the old days. They can be closer than you think, and they move faster than you realize, putting you in danger sooner than you might guess.
  • A locomotive weighs on average about 200 tons—with some weighing in at as much as 6,000 tons. That makes the ratio of train to car not unlike that of car to soda can.  Imagine the impact of a car on a can, and then double down on your commitment to safety around train tracks.
  • Trains are able to move either direction any time. You may be expecting forward movement when the reverse occurs; hence the need to wait for all signals to be clear before trekking across tracks.
  • Trains sometimes extend up to three feet beyond the rail—making the safety zone well beyond that distance.

Signal Failures 

Sometimes warning systems fail; sometimes humans make errors; it’s just a fact of life.  Collisions in these cases might be difficult to prevent if motorists are unaware of an oncoming train. If you or a loved one is involved in an auto/train collision, the experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes are here to help. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.



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