Driving Safety Tips
- Trains and cars don't mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
- The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
- Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's 18 football fields!
- Never drive around lowered gates — it's illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
- Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
- If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
- At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
- When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
- ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
Request a Free Presentation
Contact your state coordinator to schedule a free highway-rail safety presentation. Certified Operation Lifesaver Presenters may be available to speak in school classrooms, with scouting and community service groups, to driver education students and for company safety programs.
Become a Presenter
Join the many dedicated volunteers across the country who are trained to deliver our rail safety messages. For information, click on become an Operation Lifesaver Presenter, call us at 1-800-537-6224 or contact your OL state coordinator.
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What is an emergency notification sign?
An Emergency Notification Sign (ENS), posted at or near a highway-rail grade crossing, lists a telephone number along with the crossing's US DOT number and is used to notify the railroad of an emergency or warning device malfunction. (Image credit: MUTCD)