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Railroad Crossing Safety for Drivers

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This Thursday in Richmond, Virginia, witnesses reported more than 10 drivers who navigated through the stop arms at the railroad crossing near Mayo Bridge. Apparently, a train paused on the tracks was causing a traffic delay, which inspired some to disregard the law in order to shave some minutes from their morning commute.

This scenario serves as a great reminder to review some basic precautions when it comes to railroad tracks and crossings. Here’s how to safely navigate railroad crossings, as well as what to do when a broken down train is obstructing the road.

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Safety tips for crossing the tracks

  1. Always expect a train to cross at any time if you’re driving close to a railroad crossing. Trains don’t always follow a set schedule and can approach from any direction.
  2. Trains don’t always use their horn when approaching, so be on the lookout for trains that aren’t using this signal.
  3. Avoid trying to beat a train. They’re often faster and closer than they appear to be.
  4. Once the train engineer applies the emergency brakes, it can still take up to a mile for the train to come to a total stop.
  5. If the railroad crossing arms are lowered, always stop your vehicle. Never drive through the arms, even if you don’t see a train close by. Another train could be approaching from the other direction. Besides being dangerous, this driving behavior is also illegal.

What to do when a train is stuck on the tracks

There’s a reason for those blue and white signs posted near a railroad crossing. If you notice a broken-down train obstructing the crossing, call the emergency number listed on one of these signs to report the incident.

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