Did you know that every three hours in the United States, a train hits a car or person? Although this is an alarming statistic, I can’t say that I am surprised. As many of you know, I take Amtrak at least once a month when I go to visit our vacation home (we actually sold the home recently, so I won’t be going as much). The things I have seen people do around trains and railroad tracks always surprise and shock me.
I remember one time, I was at the train station waiting for my train and I saw the light in the distance. It was almost to the station when all of a sudden a man ran across the train tracks. Everyone, including myself, gasped, as he was ALMOST hit. What would possess someone to take that risk? He had to have seen the train. Nothing is so important to take a risk like that.
Another time I was taking the train to our home and shortly after I arrived, I received a text alert that the train had derailed RIGHT after I got off at my station. Apparently a big rig hit the train, which caused the accident. Many people were taken to the hospital, with moderate injuries. I felt so bad for the people still on the train, and I realized how very lucky I was to have arrived at my station before this happened. My husband, naturally, was beside himself with worry, and was relieved to learn that I wasn’t on the train when this happened.
I am so relieved to learn that Norfolk Southern has been working on a public safety campaign, called Train Your Brain, which offers tips and information about train safety. They asked me to share this important information with my readers, and I am happy to oblige*.
Launched in 2007, Train Your Brain (and its mascot Brainy!), aims to stop injuries and/or death at or around railroad crossings. I hope you will discuss this information with your children, their friends, and even your own friends and family.
While driving across a railroad track, remember:
1. If you see a train coming, wait! Flashing lights or a lowering gate means a train is approaching. Do not move through the crossing until the gates go completely up and the lights turn off.
2. Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over cars, pedestrians and even emergency vehicles.
3. If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move away from the tracks but toward the train. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, you could be injured by debris when the train hits your car.
But there is more!
Please remember (and pay special attention to) these tips when walking or running near a railroad track:
1. Never walk on the tracks. It’s illegal trespassing (all railroad tracks, trestles and yards are private property) and highly dangerous. You could be ticketed and/or fined.
2. Stay alert around railroad tracks. Don’t text, plug in headphones or take part in any other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.
3. Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first, as trains can come from either direction.
4. Stopping time. It takes the average freight train more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time.
5. Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass.
When biking near a railroad track, remember:
1. Crossing tracks on a bicycle requires caution. Narrow wheels can get caught between the rails. It’s encouraged to walk – not ride – across the track and to always cross at a 90-degree angle.
2. Wet train tracks can be slippery. Dismount and walk your bike across the tracks. Step over the tracks – not on them – to avoid slipping.
If you are fortunate enough to live in the Carolinas, make sure you keep an eye out for Brainy, as this summer, he just might be coming to a fair or festival near you! This would be a fun and informative event for the whole family, and the perfect opportunity to teach kids about train safety. You can visit the Brainy’s World event schedule to learn more.
Also important to remember is that you may not even hear a train approaching. Even if you hear a train, it it probably a lot closer than you think.
I feel very strongly about train safety, as recently, a local teenage girl was killed by a train at our nearby train station. She was only 14-years old. It shocked and saddened the whole community. The way I understand it is that she and her boyfriend were sitting on the train tracks talking, and decided to leave. As they started walking away, she realized that she had forgotten her phone. She went to retrieve it from the track where they were sitting, and she was struck by a passenger train. Needless to say, her family and friends were completely devastated, and left with plenty of questions.
Please share this post with your own friends and family – it is so important to let everyone you know, about the dangers of trains.
*Although this is a compensated post, all opinions are my own.