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Use caution around all railroad crossings

Staff Report • Mar 23, 2012 at 8:45 AM

It’s never wise to ignore the dangers of railroad crossings, particularly in Johnson City, where active tracks cut through the heart of the city. More than 80 car-train collisions are reported annually in Tennessee. Many of these crashes could have been avoided if drivers had heeded the traffic safety laws for railroad crossings.

Operation Livesaver reminds us that trains, while large and bulky, don’t make a lot of noise. Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale “clickety-clack” to signal their approach. Never try to judge a train’s speed and distance. A train’s large mass makes it almost impossible to accurately calculate its speed.

Trains also can’t brake on a dime. The average train takes a mile or more to stop. That’s the length of 18 football fields.

If you come to a crossing and see flashing red lights, don’t ignore them. Come to a complete stop. These lights signal the approach of a train. Never drive past flashing lights or around lowered gates at a crossing. Wait until the lights have stopped flashing and the gates rise completely before crossing the tracks.

Other tips to remember when approaching a railroad crossing:

Always expect a train. Railway crossings see train traffic at all hours of the day or night.

Never race a train to a crossing. Remember, there is no tie in a race with a train.

Watch for a second train when crossing multiple tracks.

Never get trapped on a crossing. Only proceed through a crossing if you are sure you can cross all the tracks at the crossing.

If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, get out immediately and call law enforcement for help.

Finally, never walk, run, cycle or ride ATVs on a railroad track or its right of way. Doing so is trespassing, not to mention being extremely stupid and dangerous.

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