As MetroLink, and other rail systems throughout Missouri, continue to grow, keeping pedestrians and drivers safe near railroad tracks is becoming more and more of a priority. In fact, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently had to issue a warning about railroad track safety after a series of fatal MetroLink accidents.
According to MoDOT’s Railroad Operations Manager, many people feel a false sense of security around railroad tracks and crossings, because they think they will be able to see and hear the train long before it reaches them. However, in many cases, that is not true, which is how drivers and pedestrians often end up the victims of fatal train accidents. In addition, MoDOT’s Railroad Operations Manager adds that train accident victims are not always on the tracks prior to the incident but just too close to the tracks. Trains can overhang the track by as much as three feet on each side.
So far this year, six Missourians have been the victims of fatal train accidents. In 2015, 15 people died after trains hit them in Missouri.
Railroad Safety Tips for Drivers and Pedestrians
Operation Lifesaver reports that, on average, a train strikes a person or vehicle every three hours in the United States. Therefore, whether you are on foot, riding a bicycle or in a vehicle, you need to know how to stay safe near railroad tracks. As such, here are a few railroad safety tips for drivers and pedestrians:
- Always Be on the Lookout for Trains – Trains do not always follow set schedules. Trains always have the right of way, and they can travel in either direction on railroad tracks. Therefore, whenever you are near train tracks or railroad crossings, you should expect trains to pass and be cautious as a result.
- Stay Off of Railroad Tracks – Generally, railroad tracks are considered private property. Therefore, in addition to being dangerous to walk or play on train tracks, it is, in many cases, illegal. If you have to cross train tracks, make sure to do so only at designated railroad crossings.
- Never Let Your Guard Down Around Train Tracks – Trains have been designed to run quieter, so make sure you can hear well as you near railroad tracks. Turn down your music, and limit talking until after you have left the train tracks behind. In addition, a train’s size can often make it appear to be further away and moving slower than it actually is, so be sure to clear out of a train’s path as soon as you see it approaching. If you are on foot near railroad tracks, even if you are standing on a train station platform, stay alert. This means you should avoid distractions, such as texting or listening to music, until you have boarded the train or are a safe distance away from the railroad tracks.
- Trains Take a Long Time to Stop – Even if a train engineer sees you on the railroad tracks and applies the emergency brake, it can take as much as a mile for the train to stop.
- Don’t Ever Try to Beat a Train – Even if you think you can cross train tracks before an approaching train passes, never take that chance. In addition, if railroad crossing gates are closing or have already closed, do not drive around them and attempt to cross the tracks before the train passes. After the train passes, wait until the gates completely rise before crossing the tracks, because the gates will stay down if another train is coming.
- If you see a vehicle stopped on railroad tracks, call 911 immediately – Approaching trains will need to be notified as soon as possible to avoid a collision.
To set up a free consultation with our Missouri and Illinois personal injury lawyers and learn what options you have if you or someone you love is the victim of a train accident in the St. Louis area, give us a call today. The information provided by Walton Telken, LLC in this Blog is not intended to be legal advice, but merely provides general information related to common legal issues. This Blog, and the information contained within it, is Attorney Advertisement. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.