Together, we can save lives at railroad crossings and on train tracks.
- Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America (1).
- Collisions at grade crossings are the second leading cause of rail-related fatalities in the U.S. (1).
- About every three hours, a trespasser or highway user is hit by a train. Slightly over half of public crossings have active warning devices (including gates, bells, and/or flashing lights, yet account for 66% of collisions). Always expect a train on any track at any time (1).
- In 2014, there were nearly 2,300 railroad crossing incidents and approximately 270 deaths (1).
What is a grade crossing? An at-grade crossing is a location where a public or private road, street, sidewalk, or pathway intersects railroad tracks at the same level.
The Risks at Rail Crossings
- Railroads have the right of way at highway-rail grade crossings because they cannot stop or turn quickly. A train traveling at 55 mph takes a mile or more to stop.
- Trespassers are illegally on private railroad property without permission.
- Always expect a train. This is especially critical where multiple tracks exist and the sound of one train can mask the sound of a second train on another set of tracks.
- Remain undistracted when walking, biking or driving. Persons should remain undistracted when on the road and keep headphones and handheld devices put away.
- Cross the tracks only at approved crossings. Crossing tracks at any other location is illegal and puts you at risk of tripping on rails or ballast.
- Do not try to beat a train at a crossing. It is almost impossible to accurately judge the distance and speed of an oncoming train.
- Do not stand close to the tracks. A train is at least 3 feet wider than the tracks on each side. Additionally, a fast moving train may kick up or drop debris.
- Do not walk along tracks, on bridges, or in tunnels. You may not hear an approaching train, and because clearances in bridges and tunnels can be tight, you may not be able to escape an approaching train.
- Don’t attempt to jump or climb on, over, under, or in between rail equipment. Even an idle freight car can be dangerous.
Helpful Links and Resources
- Union Pacific Cares
- Operation Lifesavers, Stop Track Tragedies
- U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration
- U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration. Highway-Rail Crossing & Trespassing Fact Sheet 2017. https://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L18494#p1_z5_gD_lPF