June 14, 2012 - For immediate release
JEFFERSON CITY - In light of two recent fatal rail incidents involving Missouri teens, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds young and old alike that rail crossings and railroad tracks are potentially dangerous areas.
In recent weeks, three teens died in incidents involving trains. A 14-year old boy was struck while walking on the tracks and two teen girls, ages 15 and 17, were killed at a rail crossing while playing a game based on the legend of a fatal train collision.
"These terrible tragedies illustrate the fact that railroad tracks and highway rail crossings deserve extra-special attention from travelers," said Eric Curtit, MoDOT administrator of railroads. "Railroad tracks are not pedestrian paths and should not be used as such. Drivers should pass through crossings when it is safe, without delay."
Railroad tracks are, in fact, private property owned by individual rail companies. People who walk on or near the tracks, fish from trestles or otherwise occupy railroad property are subject to ticketing or arrest by railroad agents vested with police powers.
"Railroads take trespassing seriously because people who are close to moving locomotives and railcars place themselves in extreme danger," said Curtit. "Trains can't swerve and locomotive brakes don't work like those on a car. Even if an engineer sees someone in danger, he or she might not be able to stop the train. It can take a mile for a fully-loaded train to stop after the engineer places the brakes into emergency status."
For ideas on discussing railroad safety with youth, please visit Operation Lifesaver's website: http://oli.org/
Railroad Crossing Safety Tips for Drivers
Never race a train to the crossing. Even if you tie, you lose.
Never drive around lowered gates. If you suspect a signal malfunction, call the toll free number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
Do not get trapped on the tracks. Proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only when you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on each side.
Get out of your vehicle if it stalls. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, get everyone out immediately. If a train is coming, move away from the tracks in the direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train travels, flying debris from the collision with your car could cause injury.
Watch out for a second train. If you are at a multiple-track crossing and waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks.
Expect a train on any track at any time. Trains do not travel on a regular schedule. Be cautious at rail crossings any time of the day or night.
Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied.
Don't be fooled. The train you see is closer and is moving faster than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before crossing the tracks.
Cross train tracks at designated crossings. When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly without stopping. Remember that it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from the rail.
Railroad Safety Tips for Pedestrians, Hunters and Hikers
Do not walk on or through railroad property. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine for trespassing.
Use your senses. Look, listen and feel for changes when near railroad tracks. Do not use earphones or earbuds. If you feel vibrations, see a train or hear the horn, get at least 15 feet away from the rails.
Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels. The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at a designated public crossing.
Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. Your view of a second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction.
Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing. Do not cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it is safe. Even as a pedestrian, you can be fined for failure to obey these signals.
Do not hunt or fish from railroad bridges or trestles. Trestles are not designed for public use. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Do not trespass on railroad property.
Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip can cost a limb or a life.