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Railroad Safety Tips for Motorists - Illinois Operation LifeSaver

A Plan to Save Lives

Due to statewide safety efforts, Illinois no longer leads the nation in number of highway /rail grade crossing crashes. But the situation is still serious. Numerous vehicle / train collisions occur annually resulting in unnecessary death and injuries.

What is being done?

The railroads of Illinois, in cooperation with state agencies and other safety organizations, are promoting Operation Lifesaver, a proven positive, year-around campaign to reduce the number of grade crossing collisions.
Operation Lifesaver stresses the three E's of highway safety:

  • Education to stimulate awareness of crossing dangers.
  • Enforcement of existing traffic laws governing railroad grade crossings.
  • Engineering for improved warning signs and signals.

Do your part

The fact that 63% of the vehicle / train collisions are occurring at crossings with active warning devices indicates that more than crossing devices are required to stop the needless loss of life, injuries and property damage.

  1. Support Operation Lifesaver programs in your community.
  2. Be a good driver. Obey crossing safety rules and signs. Show you care about your own safety, your passengers' safety.

Signs for Survival

Make this a basic driving rule:
Watch for the round, advance railroad warning sign whenever you drive. At the familiar yellow and black "RR" sign, slow down -- you are approaching a railroad crossing. Look both ways and listen because you may have to STOP. Remember, anytime is train time.
A railroad crossbuck sign marks the crossing itself. A sign below the crossbuck tells if there is more than one track. Some crossings have gates and flashing lights. Stop before the gates lower across your side of the road.
Flashing red lights are used with crossbuck signs at many railroad crossings. When they flash, stop just as you would at any flashing red traffic signal.

Don't stop once you start

If you start over a crossing and the flashing lights or gates start down, don't freeze; keep going. The warning signals allow enough time to drive over the crossing before the train arrives. No gate on the other side will block your lane. If you stop and try to back up, you may stall.

Watch that second track

You are waiting for a train to pass. Be patient; darting out, just as the caboose passes, may put you into the path of another train on a second track. Wait until the lights stop flashing and the train has completely cleared to ensure good visibility.

Abandon your car if you stall on the tracks

If your car is boxed in or stalls on a track, get everyone out immediately and safely away from the car. Post a lookout in each direction of the track and if a train is approaching try to flag a warning to it. If no train is in sight, have a someone try to push to car clear or start it. No car is worth a human life.

'Boxed in' can be fatal

Gates won't trap you, but a halt in highway traffic flow might. NEVER drive onto a railroad track until you are certain you can drive all the way across. Be sure the traffic ahead of you will not stop and box you in on a track.

Be extra alert at night or in bad weather

Never overdrive your headlights. The consequences of ignoring this rule are more deadly when you approach a railroad crossing. You may suddenly see a train when you are going too fast and are too close to stop. Consider the horror. Incredibly, about one of every four crossing crashes invovles a motor vehicle being driven into a train.
Watch for the advance warning sign-- slow down and be prepared to stop when you see it.

Familiarity breeds contempt

Maybe you go back and forth over the same track every day, perhaps several times a day. You have lived here all your life and take train times for granted. But railroads operate around-the-clock and change schedules. You will be just as dead, hit by an unexpected train.

Observe the Lifesaver signs

When it's a tie at the crossing YOU LOSE.

For the motorist

"Lifesaver" signs imply a warning -- and if their presence will implant the image of a 100--car train traveling at 60mph and requiring a mile of braking distance to stop, the grade crossing problem would indeed be minimized. In fact, if motorists obeyed all existing traffic laws, there would be virtually no grade crossing collisions.

Common causes of crossing collisions

  • The driver sees the train coming, but misjudges speed and distance.
  • The motorists races the train to the crossing and is either struck by the train or runs into the side of it.
  • As a train clears a crossing, the motorist immediately starts across the tracks with out looking for other trains and either strikes or is struck by a train running on an adjacent track.
  • A motorists becomes "too familiar" with a crossing and uses no caution whatsoever when coming to the crossing.
  • The driver fails to observe and obey the advance railroad warning sign and other crossing warning signs and signals.
  • The driver has too mauch alcohol in his system and is, therefore incapable of properly driving a motor vehicle.
  • The motorist, driving at night or in a location which is not familiar, travels at a speed too great in such circumstances and because he cannot stop in time, drives in front of, or into the side of a train.
  • The motorist overdrives their headlights or fails to properly conform their driving speed to night or prevailing weather conditions.
  • With air coniditioning and radio running, a motorist cannot hear an approaching train, and he fails to look.
  • Windows of the motorist's car are frosted up or dirty.
Look! | Listen! | Live !
2018-01-18T10:01:58.891-06:00 2018