Rail Safety Week Reminds Residents to be Cautious Where Trains Are Involved

September 19 starts Rail Safety Week and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning wants to ensure all residents stay safe around railroad tracks.

A 400,000 pound, or 200 ton train traveling about 55 miles an hour will take about a mile to come to a full stop and cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision. In the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours. However, since 1972, the number of train collisions has gone down 83 percent from 12,000 to about 2,100 in 2021.

Other tips to remember: 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. Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains often change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection at any time. Remember to cross train tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted there. Trains have the right of way 100 percent of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police and pedestrians. And stay alert around railroad tracks. Refrain from texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.

For more information about railway safety, visit Operation Lifesaver at oli.org.