September 18-24, 2023 – Rail Grade Crossing Campaign

You can’t beat a train on the Tracks: Stop. Trains Can’t

Washington County, OH —The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have launched a national rail grade crossing safety ad campaign to increase public awareness about being safe around rail grade tracks, and reduce crossing deaths and injuries. 

The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness about the need for rail-safety education and empower the general public to keep themselves and others safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way.

In 2019 alone, 126 people were killed in vehicles at railroad crossings, according to data from FRA. Of the fatal collisions that year, 94 occurred after the driver went around lowered crossing gate arms — a 10-year high. In fact, from 2015-2019, there were 1,589 drivers who drove around a lowered gate and were struck by a train, accounting for 15% of all collisions. These crashes were caused by risky driving behaviors and poor decision-making, which means the incidents and deaths could have been prevented.

“According to the Federal Railroad Administration Statistics 2,195 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2022. Sadly, there were 274 crossing fatalities and 810 crossing injuries throughout the United States. Based off of these statistics Ohio is ranked as number 9. NHTSA recorded the following incidents in Ohio as having 66 collisions 4 deaths and 12 injured. People make rushed and risky choices, or they think that can play games with the train. Oftentimes, these poor choices result in death to the occupants of the vehicle; sadly most of these deaths are 100 % preventable. Whether or not you see railroad crossing signage, you should always use cation and obey the crossing laws,” said Chief Deputy Mark Warden. By law, trains always have the right of way because of their sheer size: A train cannot swerve, stop quickly, or change direction to avert a collision. Avoiding a collision with a train is always the responsibility of the driver. There are 130,200 public railroad crossings in the United States, and roughly 55% are “active” crossings that include warning devices such as gates, bells, or flashing lights to alert drivers of an approaching train. But 45% are “passive” crossings, meaning only signs and markings are present.

While warning devices do improve safety at railroad crossings, they do not prevent 100% of collisions. Approximately 60% of all collisions at railroad crossings occur where active warning devices are present.

“We all live busy lives and waiting for a train seems to be an inconvenience, but showing caution at a railroad crossing will save your life and the loved ones that are in your vehicle.,” said Chief Deputy Warden. “No delay is worth loss of human life there is only one option “STOP”.

Follow these tips to stay safe when crossing a railroad:

  • Look carefully in both directions before crossing a railroad track — even during the day. Sixty-seven percent of railroad crossing collisions occur in clear weather conditions.
  • When approaching a railroad crossing, slow down, look, and listen for a train on the tracks, especially at “passive” crossings.
  • Do not rely on past experiences to guess when a train is coming. Trains can come from either direction at any time.
  • Never race a train. It is easy to misjudge a train’s speed and distance from the crossing. A train traveling at 55 miles per hour takes a mile to stop — the length of 18 football fields or more — after applying the emergency brakes.
  • Before entering a railroad crossing, check that there is enough room on the other side of the tracks for your vehicle to cross completely and safely. Be aware that you may need to cross multiple sets of tracks at some railroad crossings.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a railroad track, quickly move away from the track and your vehicle at a 45-degree angle. Call the number on the Emergency Notification System sign, or, if the sign is not visible to you, dial 911 for help.
  • Never stop on the railroad tracks. Keep moving once you have entered the crossing, and to avoid stalling, never shift gears on the tracks.

The message is very simple: Stop! Trains Can’t.