FRA and Google Team Up On Railroad Crossing Safety
Google to bring railroad crossing information to Google Maps
The U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration and many other organizations have recently been joined by Google to make railroad crossings safer for drivers and pedestrians. Google has agreed to integrate FRA’s GIS data, which pinpoints locations of the nation's 250,000 public and private railroad crossings, into its mapping services. When drivers are alerted or reminded that there is a rail crossing ahead, they may be more likely to remain alert, use greater caution, and obey the signal crossings.
Last year, approximately 270 people died in highway-rail collisions that were largely preventable. We should do everything possible to end vehicular-train accidents at rail crossings. With Google's help, I’m confident that we can achieve this goal even faster.
Here are some railroad crossing safety tips:
Anytime is train time.
You can't be sure when a train may appear at a crossing, even if it's one you pass every day. Freight trains don't travel on a regular schedule and the schedules for passenger trains can change. Always be alert, because trains can run any time of day or night, on any track, in any direction.
Don't be fooled—the train is closer and faster than you think!
In the same way that airplanes can seem to move slowly, your eyes can play a trick on you when a train is approaching—an optical illusion that makes a train seem farther away and moving more slowly than it really is. Don't take chances—it's easy to misjudge a train's speed and its distance. If you see a train, stop and wait.
It is your responsibility to avoid a train since it cannot avoid you.
After fully applying the brakes, a loaded freight train traveling 55 miles an hour takes a mile or more to stop. A light rail train can take 600 feet to stop, and an 8-car passenger train traveling 80 miles an hour needs about a mile to stop. Even if the engineer can see you, it's too late to stop the train in time to prevent a collision.
Stop and wait when gates are down or lights are flashing.
If the gates are down, the road is closed and you must stop and wait—that's the law. Continue across only after the gates are fully up and the red lights stop flashing.
Slow down when approaching a railroad crossing and look both ways -- TWICE!
If you're at a crossing with more than one set of tracks, be very careful after a train passes. Before you begin to cross, be sure that another train isn't coming on another track from a different direction—the first train can hide the second train.
Don't get trapped on the tracks.
Never drive onto a railroad crossing until you're sure you can clear the tracks on the other side without stopping. If your car stalls or is trapped on the tracks, get everyone out right away, even if you don't see a train coming. If a train is approaching, move away from the crossing and move towards the approaching train. This way you can avoid injury by flying debris when the train hits your car. When you're at a safe distance, call 9-1-1 and inform the police about a stalled vehicle.
Don't trespass on foot.
Tracks and the property alongside them—the right of way—are private property. Stay off railroad cars and tracks. Don't trespass—it's illegal and too often it's deadly.
Remember to practice safety and don't learn about it by accident!