In September 1997, a trucker was killed in Gary, IN, when he drove around a lowered highway-rail grade crossing gate and was hit by an oncoming Amtrak train.
The collision threw the driver out of the truck and projected him 200 to 300 feet down the track.
Operation Lifesaver — a Alexandria, VA-based non-profit public information an education program dedicated to reducing accidents at highway-rail grade crossings — reports that more than 50% of highway-rail crossing collisions occur at crossings were active warning devices exist.
Operation Lifesaver rand the National Safety Council believe that drivers often believe they can beat oncoming trains because they appear to be traveling slower than automobiles and seem to be farther away than they really are. To help avoid these accidents, the two groups offer truckers the following safety tips:
• Remember vehicles carrying passengers for hire or hazardous materials must stop all all highway-rail grade crossings.
• Approach all crossings with your vehicle under control. Slow as soon as you see advanced warning signs.
• Don’t overdrive your headlights. Trains are not equipped with marker lights or reflective materials.
• Look both ways and listen for trains.
• Stop no closer than 15 feet or farther than 50 feet from the nearest rail when a train is close. Remain stopped until the train has passed or until the warning signals have stopped.
• Watch out for double tracks — another train may be blocked from your view by the first train.
• Expect a train on any track at any time in either direction.
• Don’t attempt to cross the tracks unless you are sure the truck will clear on the other sides. Never shift gears while crossing railroad tracks.
• If you truck gets hung up or stalls on the crossing, get everyone out of the vehicle immediately and report the situation immediately.
Operation Lifesaver sponsors Trucker and/or Officer on the Train Trips, allowing truckers and police officers to ride on a train and experience the close calls that train engineers face first-hand. The group also offers safety seminars, publications and videos. For more information, call (800) 537-6224.