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Florida Auto Safety: Railroad Crossing Safety Tips

December 30, 2010

Across the country, a person or a vehicle is hit by a train approximately every three hours. Florida ranks 7th worst in the nation for fatal accidents involving cars and trains and 13th worst for accidents involving collisions between trains and autos according to the Federal Railroad Administration (2009 statistics). Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit rail safety education program, notes that “current Federal Railroad Association (FRA) data shows that highway-rail grade crossing collisions and pedestrian trespass on tracks together account for over 95% of all railroad fatalities”.

There are many reasons for train/automobile accidents: impatience (not wanting to wait for the train to cross) and driver distraction rank high on the list. Other factors also come into play. Trains can look as if they are moving slower than they really are, which can prompt a driver to think they can beat the train through a railroad crossing. In addition, many railroad crossings are not equipped with electronic signals, so a driver may not realize a train is coming until it is too late.

Operation Lifesaver lists seven steps for Florida auto safety around train tracks:

1. Approach a railroad crossing with care and slow down when you see an Advanced Warning Sign.

2. Be prepared to stop for a train. Turn off your air conditioner and radio, roll down your window, and look and listen for a train.

3. Double check to the left and right of your car and look in both directions before you drive across the tracks.

4. Cross railroad tracks with care. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, use a gear that will not require shifting until you reach the opposite side.

5. If you see a train approaching, stop at least 15 feet from the nearest rail, but not more than 50 feet from the rail.

6. Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.

7. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. If your vehicle has a trailer, remember to take the additional length into account when stopping after crossing the tracks.

An additional Florida auto safety tip regarding train crossings: don’t stop your car on the railroad tracks while waiting for a traffic light to change. If a train comes and traffic is backed up waiting for a light on the other side of the tracks, you may be the one stuck in the train’s path!

If you or a loved one have been injured in a railroad crossing accident, contact the experienced South Florida auto accident lawyers at the Law Office of Joseph M. Maus and Associates at 1-866-556-5529, visit their website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email them today.

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