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Illinois Railroad Crossing Safety Tips

Published on Jun 11, 2020 at 5:15 pm in Train Accidents.

railroad crossing sign

When you’re in a rush to get to your destination, whether you’re in a car or walking, you might be less likely to pay attention to railroad crossings, and just speed right through them. But these aren’t areas to be taken lightly because one misstep could be deadly.

In most cases, a train can’t stop in time, even if if the operator sees a person or vehicle on the tracks—the train is moving too fast and is too heavy to stop in time. It’s imperative that you are always aware of the signals at railroad crossings, because you can prevent yourself from getting into a train crossing accident. It’s also important because disobeying the signals that indicate a train is approaching is illegal in Illinois.

Train accidents at railroad crossings can drastically change your life. Let’s look at useful railroad crossing safety tips in and around Chicago as well as other parts of Illinois to ensure you know what to do when you get near train tracks as a driver or pedestrian.

Look for Lights and Listen for Horns

Most railroad crossings have lights to signal that a train is coming through the intersection. When these lights flash, you are supposed to stop at the white line that is marked on the road. You are not to cross the tracks until the lights stop flashing and the train has left the area. According to state code, you must stop within 50 feet, but not less than 15 feet away from the nearest rail.

Many railroad crossings also have drop-down bars that prevent cars from crossing the tracks when trains approach. These are useful visuals, as the flashing lights can be hard to spot in the daytime. If the crossing doesn’t have lights to warn you when a train is coming, you have to be extra cautious. Many modern train crossings also have pedestrian drop down bars. These are particularly important to pay attention to. Just because a train car is stopped to pick up passengers at a train station, does not mean that there is not another train coming from the other direction that may be shielded by the stopped train. Never attempt to cross the tracks if your visual field is blocked by a stopped train. The results could be disastrous.

When trains are approaching a railroad crossing, they typically will sound their horn to alert any people that they are approaching. Be sure to turn your radio or music down if you’re driving or take off your headphones if you’re walking so you can listen for the loud horn. You also might be able to hear the sound of the train moving on the tracks, as trains are not a particularly quiet mode of transportation.

One other way to tell if a train is coming through a railroad crossing is to look for the light on the front of the train. The train’s headlight will be easier to see in the dark, but it is still useful to look down a track for a single headlight so you can recognize a train coming toward you and decide if you’re able to cross safely.

Always Yield to the Train

As mentioned above, in most instances, a train can’t stop for you, no matter how fast or slowly they are moving. Trains are simply too heavy to come to a stop like a car. Additionally, trains may move faster than you might think, so even if you think that you can cross in front of an oncoming train, you could be wrong. It’s best to allow the train to cross before you do because it’s hard to gauge how quickly it’s moving on the tracks and if you have enough time to safely cross.

When you suspect a train is moving slowly, you might be tempted to quickly cross so that you don’t have to wait for the entire locomotive to pass. This could take a long time depending on the length of the train and how quickly it’s moving, but it’s better to be late than rush in front of a moving train and get hit.

Never Stop on the Tracks

When you are able to safely cross train tracks, never come to a stop on the them.  This is both extremely dangerous and a moving violation in the state of Illinois. Stopping on the tracks can be very dangerous because no matter how slowly the train is going, it is unlikely that they will be able to slow down enough to stop before colliding with your car if you’re stopped on the tracks. Additionally, if you stop on the tracks, the possibility of your vehicle stalling exists. If this occurred, it would be too late for you to get out of the way of the moving train.

Make Sure There Is Room on the Other Side Before Crossing

When a railroad crossing in the city, or even in a rural area, is near a stoplight or stop sign, sometimes traffic can get backed up, and you run the risk of getting stuck on the tracks if there is not enough room to go over the tracks. Rather than risk it, it’s best not to cross the tracks if you think there won’t be room on the other side for your vehicle.

If you’ve been in a train accident, you might not know your next steps with making a legal claim. The train accident lawyers at Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys are here to guide you through the process. Contact us today to discuss your potential case.

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