The first-ever U.S. Rail Safety Week is planned for this week. The campaign is jointly sponsored by Operation Lifesaver Inc., BNSF Railway as well as other freight railroads and Amtrak, along with the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, the Association of American Railroads, and other safety partners. Rail Safety Week is a nationwide public awareness campaign designed to promote crossing safety and trespasser prevention on or near railroad tracks.

Here are some safety tips for drivers:

  • Trains and cars don’t mix. Never race a train to the crossing.
  • 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.
  • Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the emergency 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 the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided, telling them about the stalled vehicle. If a train is approaching, run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45 degree angle. If you run in the same direction a train is traveling, you could be injured by flying debris.
  • 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.
BNSF is also supporting Rail Safety Week through its social media outlets on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Or to learn more check out See Tracks Think Train or Operation Lifesaver.