ATLANTA - It is a list no state wants to be on, but Georgia made it.
The Peach State is ranked on a list of the states with the most crashes at railroad crossings.
These can be deadly, but are also often avoidable.
Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.
According to Operation Lifesaver, as of 2017, Georgia was fifth on a list of states with the most highway-grade crossing collisions.
Here are some ways you can protect yourself which driving through or around railroad crossings.
Driving Safety Tips:
- Trains and cars don't mix. Never race a train to the crossing: even if you tie, you lose.
- 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 engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's 18 football fields.
- 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.
- If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, 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.
- Remember it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
- Always expect a train. Freight trains do not follow set schedule.
Driving is not the only way people approach railroad crossings. Pedestrians are often near railroad tracks, and go through crossings.
Pedestrians who choose to walk or play around railroad tracks are trespassing on private property and could be fined, seriously injured or killed, according to Operation Lifesaver.
Here are reminders for those walking around railroad tracks and crossings:
Pedestrian Safety Tips:
- The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined. Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings.
- It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time. Railroad property is private property. For your safety, it is illegal to be there unless you are at a designated public crossing.
- Trains overhang the tracks by at least 3 feet in both directions; loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit by the train.
- Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until you can see clearly around the first train in both directions.
- Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges. Never walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels.
- Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.
- Be aware trains do not follow set schedules. Remember: Any time is train time.
(Channel 2 Action News reached out to Operation Lifesaver for 2018 data, which is in preliminary stages. We will update this story with the latest information once it becomes available.)
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