Operation Lifesaver Virginia

CONTACT US

Operation Lifesaver Virginia
P.O. Box 3046
Petersburg, VA 23805

Phone: 804-458-6882

Email: va-operation-lifesaver@att.net

Safety Tips

Operation Lifesaver is a national, non-profit public education program dedicated to ending collisions deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights-of-way. For more information and the name of your Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator, please call 1-800-537-6224, or check www.oli.org. The following safety tips were obtained from that website.



General Rail Safety Information

  • Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule; schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at every highway-rail intersection.
  • Train tracks are private property, no matter which railroad owns them. Trains have the right of way 100% of the time — over ambulances, fire engines, cars, the police and pedestrians.
  • If there are rails on the railroad ties, assume that the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks "rusty."
  • A typical locomotive weighs approximately 400,000 pounds or 200 tons. When 100 railcars are added to the locomotive, the train can weigh approximately 6,000 tons. The weight ratio of an automobile to a train is proportional to a soda can and an automobile.
  • A train may extend three feet or more outside the steel rail, which makes the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the rails themselves.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. It is a simple law of physics: the huge weight and size of the train and the speed of the train dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop — that's approximately 18 football fields — once the train is set into emergency braking.
  • There are roughly 200,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Trains are sometimes pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled. This is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale "clackety-clack." Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Never walk down a train track; it's illegal and it's dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • Remember: Rail and recreation do not mix!

Highway-Rail Grade Crossings - Seven Steps for Safety

  • Approach crossing with care.
  • Slow down when you see an Advanced Warning Sign.
  • Prepare to stop.
  • Turn off fans and radio, roll down windows.
  • Look and listen for a train.
  • Stop at least 15 feet from nearest rail, but not more than 50 feet, if you see a train.
  • If it won’t fit, don’t commit.
  • Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. If your vehicle has a trailer, remember the additional length.
  • Double check, back left and right. Before you move look in both directions.
  • Cross tracks with care. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, use a gear that will not require shifting until you reach the opposite side.
  • Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.

What to do if your vehicle stalls or hangs up on the tracks:

  • Get out Immediately - evacuate your vehicle. (Trains traveling at 60 mph may take a mile or more to stop.)
  • Move away at once. Walk in the direction of the oncoming train, and away from tThe tracks at a 45-degree angle. (If your vehicle is hit, debris will spread out from the tracks in the same direction the train is moving.
  • Locate the emergency phone number. When you are safely away from the tracks, find the railroad’s emergency phone number and the DOT crossing identification number posted near the crossing.

Pedestrian Rail Safety Tips

  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Trains are sometimes pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled. This is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale "clackety-clack." Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Never walk down a train track; it's illegal and it's dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • Remember: Rail and recreation do not mix!

Please email va-operation-lifesaver@att.net with comments and corrections about this website.