According to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis, there were 9,232 train accidents, 6,297 serious injuries due to train accidents, and 637 train-related fatalities across the United States in 2008. How can you prevent yourself or your family from becoming part of these frightening statistics?
Here are some train safety and prevention tips to help educate your family:
· Understand that it is extremely difficult for trains to come to a stop - even if they are moving somewhat slowly, their weight and momentum means that it could take a very long time for them to brake. Because of this, it is imperative to stay out of a train's way. They always have the right-of-way, even in the case of emergency vehicles. A train traveling 55 miles per hour can take up to a mile to come to a complete stop!
· Know that trains often don't run on set schedules if they are carrying freight or cargo instead of passengers. Never assume that it is "safe" to cross a track due to the time. Also know that train rails are almost always used in both directions, not just one.
· Walking down any train track is both dangerous and illegal. Don't assume you can hear a train coming - modern trains are much quieter than ever before.
· It is only safe to cross train tracks in designated spots for vehicles and pedestrians. Even if the railroad crossing lights aren't blinking, look both ways before crossing to make certain the path is clear.
· If you are driving a vehicle, never stop on the tracks. If you are waiting for a stop light or at an intersection, wait on either side of the track, keeping in mind that a train can be as much as six feet wider than the tracks themselves.
· Never enter a train tunnel or cross a railroad trestle. Dozens of people die each year when they are caught in these situations with no way to escape an oncoming train.