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Fuel for Thought

Your License or Your Life

Your License or Your Life

By Greg Huggins
Posted Aug 29th 2016 10:10AM

Motorized mass transit, moving people and products by rail has been around for a long time. Then the automobile and truck were built and with these came the interaction of cars, trucks and trains.Crossbuck

Railroad crossing safety should be common sense, since there is a very little chance that you, as a professional commercial vehicle driver, will encounter a train anywhere other than the railroad tracks. Unlike wildlife or other motorists, trains are generally only found to cross roads on tracks. They will not even cross unannounced in the overwhelming majority of cases, but, did you know that in “Quiet Zones” train horns do NOT routinely sound?

For the most part, I always expect a train when I approach a crossing. Whether the crossing has just a yield sign or stop sign or even flashing lights and gates, always expect a train. Slow down, Look and Listen!

For CMV drivers there are a few things to remember:

  • The 15-50 rule - Always stop between 15-50 feet before the nearest rail of a highway crossing.

  • Always expect a train - In Quiet Zones, train horns will not routinely sound.

  • If it won’t fit, don’t commit - Know your truck length, and only proceed when you know you can FULLY clear the crossing.

  • In case of emergency - Call the phone number on the BLUE Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign located on the crossbuck or signal post and give the crossing number found on the sign to identify your location. If no ENS sign is available, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!

Railroad crossings normally will give plenty of warning that you are approaching a crossing.

Advance Warning Sign

Pavement Markings

Lighted Crossbuck        

Lights Bells GateIn 1981, there were 9,461 reported Highway-Rail incidents, with 728 of those having fatalities and 3,293 having injuries.

In 2013, the number of Highway-Rail incidents dropped to 2,102, with 232 fatalities and 974 having injuries.

While this is a huge decline in the number of incidents, that is still 232 lives lost and 974 injuries that could possibly have been prevented.

Trains ride on the rails and trucks on the roads, while we have to cross paths, we should make every effort to do so safely.

I hear truck drivers all the time complaining about cars cutting them off, and how much more difficult it is to stop up to 80,000 pounds of truck versus the car.

Well drivers, there is a larger vehicle among us, luckily we know where to find it (on the tracks), and it can take up to 1 MILE to stop a 100-car freight train at just 55 MPH! 


For a very informative and interactive site to learn more visit:

Take the ProDriver Challenge - A game format e-learning program for professional drivers.

Did you know that as a Commercial Driver the Penalties for RailRoad crossings are more severe than for the general public?

  • 1st Conviction - driver disqualified from driving for NO LESS than 60 days.

  • 2nd Conviction - driver is disqualified from driving for NO LESS than 120 days for 2nd violation within any 3 year period.

  • 3rd Conviction - driver is disqualified from driving for NO LESS than 1 YEAR for 3rd violation within any 3 year period.

Save your license and save your life.

See you down the road,


1 Comment

  • Greg - August 29, 2016

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