Safety Tips and Facts
- Freight trains don't travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection.
- All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; it's illegal trespass and highly dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer sees a trespasser or vehicle on the tracks it's too late. It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
- The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons; it can weigh up to 6,000 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car. We all know what happens to a soda can hit by a car.
- Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police and pedestrians.
- A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three foot mark. If there are rails on the railroad ties always assume the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks unused.
- Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes their cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled, which is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
- Today's trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale "clackety-clack." Any approaching train is always closer, moving faster, than you think.
- Remember to cross train tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted there.
- Stay alert around railroad tracks. No texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation.
As part of our mission to reduce deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and around tracks and trains, Operation Lifesaver offers safety tips for drivers, pedestrians, and other audiences.
Click on the links below for safety tips of interest to you.
Driving Safety Tips
Distraction near trains and tracks can be deadly - these tips can keep you safe.
More Safety Tips
For additional safety tips, including tips geared to specific audiences, see our Safety Tips landing page.