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What to Do if Your Car Gets Stuck on Railroad Tracks

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Getting your vehicle stuck on a railroad track is the last scenario anyone could wish to be in. However, if you do happen to find yourself in that situation, what are the top strategies to keep in mind to protect you and your passengers, as well as to avoid this scenario in the first place?

1. Get as far from the track as possible

Immediately exit the stuck vehicle and make sure any passengers have, as well. Next, run as far away from the track as you can. As important as speed is, it’s important to run in the right direction. Per Joyce Rose, president of Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit rail safety education group, you want to run at a 45-degree angle to the oncoming train’s path. “It seems counterintuitive, but this is to avoid being hit by flying debris. When you run toward the train, you run away from the site of the potential collision,” Rose articulated.

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2. Don’t expect the train to stop in time

Freight trains can take nearly a mile to come to complete standstill, due to their speed and mass. Although commuter trains can stop a bit faster than that, it’s still best to assume that the train won’t be able to come to a total pause in time to avoid a collision.

3. Avoid pausing your car on train tracks during traffic

Defensive driving can go a long way in helping you to avoid this worst-case scenario altogether. Whenever you encounter a rail road track located right before a stop light (especially when traffic is heavy), make sure there’s sufficient room between your car and the car ahead before you proceed to drive over the tracks. This will help ensure that you don’t have to stop your vehicle in the middle of the tracks, as you wait for the light to turn green and the vehicles ahead of you to move forward.

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News Sources: The New York Times, The Pantagraph