It's a Team's Life
Don’t call 911
If hung up on a railroad crossing and no train is approaching take your cell phone to the railroad crossing and call the number located on the blue sign. Tell the railroad operator the specific number on the sign which tells them where you are located and if a train is on the way they can get the train stopped. Then do what needs to be done including calling 911 if needed. Push, pull, or lift the vehicle off of the tracks and then call the number once again to let the railroad know the intersection has been cleared.
If stuck on the tracks and the train is approaching remember a 400,000-pound train will take over a mile to come to a complete stop. This is a no-win situation and it is time to leave the vehicle and run towards the train off to the side. The idea is to get as far from flying debris as possible when your vehicle is totaled.
When hauling Hazmat, we are required to stop at all railroad tracks that are not exempt if we are placarded. First the 4-way flashers are turned on, next we start slowing the truck, then the windows are opened to listen for a train, come to a complete stop, look both ways, then proceed with caution. Once the tracks are cleared roll up the windows and leave 4-way flashers on till back up to speed. While sometimes this can be frustrating it makes sense to look both ways for an approaching train.
Stay aware of railroad crossing signs and look at the tracks before crossing as some are at a steep angle and just right to hang up a low clearance trailer. Do not try to beat the train as the train has the right of way, the train cannot slow to miss you, and it creates one heck of a mess when a train and a vehicle collide. Personally, I can only imagine the horror a train engineer faces when he sees a vehicle stuck on the tracks wondering if there is anyone inside.
Remember if stuck on the tracks or if you see someone stuck on the tracks call the number on the blue sign to report the problem immediately. By the time, you see a train approaching at 55 MPH plus there is not enough time to get your belongings are to move the vehicle as the train is not going to stop.
Be aware of these signs as there will not be a warning of a train approaching Quiet Crossing or Quiet zone.
Trains have the right of way always! Shouldn't have to be said but after talking with a train engineer in Canada I was amazed at how many vehicles he hits a year because someone thinks they can beat him and he is in a freight train not a super-fast passenger train. Don't become a statistic look both ways and then look again before crossing the tracks.
Bob & Linda Caffee
Saint Louis MO
Expediters since January 2005
Expediting isn't just trucking, it's a lifestyle;
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