Railroad track safety guide for pedestrians

Exercising proper safety precautions around railroads may help pedestrians to avoid accidentally being hit by a passing train.

Railroad tracks are present all over Virginia, and even older tracks often remain in use. Both pedestrians and motorists need to exercise the utmost caution around tracks, as trains can come through very quickly and sometimes with little warning, especially for those who are hearing-impaired. Safe Kids Worldwide states that a child is fatally struck by a train every five days. Understanding the necessary precautions to take around railroad tracks can help people to reduce the likelihood of a railroad accident.

Safe conduct for pedestrians

Operation Lifesaver points out that wearing headphones or using a cellphone while near railroad tracks can be a death sentence. Pedestrians should avoid any kind of distractions when around a railroad that could prevent them from noticing the sound of an approaching train. In addition, railroad crossings are positioned in areas where it is safest to cross, and they are made with safety signals and warning signs. Pedestrians should only cross tracks at designated crossing zones. Walking on railroad tracks should always be avoided, as it is not only dangerous--it is illegal.

What to know about trains

Modern trains are much quieter than older models, giving people much less warning of their approach. The first time someone hears an approaching train, it could be much closer than it sounds. Trains can also approach from either direction, so it is important when crossing to look both ways, just as when crossing a street. Steel rails do not demarcate the edge of a train's safety zone. Some trains can extend more than three feet beyond the rail, so anywhere near railroad tracks may be a danger-zone.

Trains cannot stop very quickly, and some of them may take up to a mile to be able to come to a full stop. The locomotive itself can weigh as much as 400,000 pounds and may be moving as fast as 55 miles per hour. Even pedestrians and emergency and police vehicles must give right-of-way to trains. Passenger trains frequently have changing schedules, and there is no fixed time for a train to be at a certain location on the tracks. When crossing tracks, people should demonstrate the same level of caution as if they expect a train to be coming at any minute--it very well might be.

The cost of a train accident can be high, and in addition to the pain and suffering caused, it may include medical expenses. An attorney in the local area may be able to help someone obtain financial compensation. Not all local personal injury attorneys will take train accidents, but Crandall & Katt, Attorneys at Law may be able to help.