Railroad Safety for Pedestrians

Railroad safety is the number one priority for the railroad industry and commitment to customer safety is an ongoing endeavour for rail companies and government agencies. That commitment has shone through in the safety record for rail transport. Trains remain one of the safest ways to travel and only around seven people on average lose their lives on a mainline train in America each year. Passengers on drivers of cars, on the other hand, face a 7.3 per billion mile risk of fatality. For a person travelling 30 miles a day for a year in an automobile, death occurs in one in every 12,500 people.

Unfortunately, while deaths of train passengers are vanishingly rare, motorists and pedestrians being hit at level crossings inflate the annual rail death rates Ė accounting for most railroad fatalities, according to a Research in Transportation Economics study. Live Science say that almost 500 deaths in 2011 resulted from pedestrians going onto the line and people stopping their cars on rail right of wayís. Around 20 percent of this grisly figure is thought to be due to intentional suicide.

There are also near-misses and injuries caused by trespass onto lines or to railroad workers in the course of maintenance so effective health and safety at work and public education programs remain vital in continuing to improve the safety record of the railroad industry.e Rail Safe: What all Pedestrianís should Know

Operation Lifesaver give some great safety tips that everyone should know to be rail safe:
Pedestrians should not attempt to cross
a railway line unless it is at a level crossing. If you cross at any other area it is extremely dangerous and you can be fined a lot of money for trespass onto the tracks if you donít stay within a designated pedestrian area.

  • Donít attempt to cross the tracks as soon as a train has gone by Ė there may be another one immediately afterwards. Trains move fast and it can take their drivers a mile to stop so a driver probably wonít be able to stop if he sees you on the line.
  • Observe flashing red lights. These tell you that a train is approaching from either direction. DO NOT IGNORE these lights. Ignoring the lights may result in death or serious injury. You can also be fined for ignoring this safety measure. Remember trains overlap the tracks so even if you are standing at the side of the tracks, you may still be hit.
  • Do not trespass on railroad yards or touch railroad equipment. Railroads yards are dangerous environments that should only be attended by trained railroad workers and venturing onto them without authorization is as dangerous as entering a building site. You can also be arrested, fined and given a criminal record.
  • Donít hunt or fish or participate in any other leisure activity on railroad trestles Ė railroads are dangerous if not given the proper respect.
  • Donít attempt to jump onto a moving train or take a Ďselfieí near a train unless you are safely on a platform out of harmís way. The Daily Dot reported that a teenager was killed after trying to photograph himself on a train line.
  • When crossing a level crossing, donít listen to your ipod. Music is a distraction and you may not hear an approaching train. Donít use your cell phone when at a level crossing. This is dangerous, just like driving while talking on your phone. Remember, modern trains are quieter than they used to be.
  • Donít try to walk around closing barriers.
  • This may sound obvious but say no to drugs. People under the influence of drugs can lose their inhibitions or have delusions that result in serious accidents around public transport, including trains. One man lost a leg after taking illegal drugs. Believing he could fly, he then tried to fly onto the train line. He was struck, had his leg amputated by the train and required multiple blood transfusions and surgery to save his life.
  • Becoming intoxicated by alcohol can also make you more vulnerable to accident. If you think you have an alcohol problem, Rehabs.com says there are medications that limit cravings and help you become sober. Medications like Topiramate - originally a treatment for migraines - can reduce alcohol cravings by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain. Get medical help to protect yourself today.

    Advice for Motorists

    Remember, your car is no defence against a train. Following these rules from the US government may save your life:

    • Never try to overtake another vehicle within 100 feet of a level crossing
    • When at a crossing, open the windows and turn off the radio so you can listen for sirens and look for lights without distraction
    • Pay attention to stop signs and closing gates etc.
    • Donít shift gears on the train line or stop Ė change gears before you get to the crossing.
    • Donít attempt to drive across a track that isnít a designated railroad crossing, it isnít safe and you could be fined.
    • Look both ways twice before you cross, even if the sirens havenít sounded. Trains arenít always on time and there can be electrical faults that prevent lights and sirens from working.
    • Donít imagine you can drive across the track before the train gets there Ė trains move a lot faster than your car.
    • NEVER race another driver over a train line and donít attempt to race the train.
    • If your car stalls on the line and there is an approaching train, GET OUT OF THE CAR immediately and get clear of the line. Donít attempt to re-start your engine. Call 911 to inform them your car is on the line.
    • If you have driven across a railroad crossing and the barrier comes down, just drive through it. A broken barrier is nothing compared with your life.

      contributed by Emma Fulbright