BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – According to recent statistics shared by Louisiana State Police (LSP), last year, a total of 23 crashes involving trains occurred within the state.
Sadly, these collisions resulted in 13 fatalities and ten injuries.
LSP shared the above data in connection with National Rail Safety Week, which runs from September 19 through September 25 this year.
As one of many agencies who are participating in the special week of activity, LSP hopes to raise awareness of the need to be cautious while navigating Louisiana’s many railroad crossings.
Startling crash statistics
Within the last ten days alone, BRProud reported on at least three collisions involving vehicles and trains.
- A Tuesday, September 13 crash near South Choctaw Drive in Baton Rouge
- A Thursday, September 15 in Donaldsonville
- A Saturday, September 17 collision on Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge left one person injured.
Unfortunately, these statistics are in harmony with the significant number of railway crossing collisions reported across the nation.
The Federal Railroad Administration says 2,145 railway crashes occurred in 2021 and these resulted in 236 deaths and 668 injuries.
In view of these startling statistics, what can drivers and pedestrains do to make their safety a priority when navigating railroad crossings?
How to make safety a priority at railroad crossings
LSP advises implementing the following suggestions:
• Look both ways and listen closely. Trains may be traveling faster than they appear. They can also travel on any track, in any direction, at any time.
• Trains and cars do not mix. Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.• Never drive around lowered gates — it is illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
• 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.
• 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 a track with a train coming, exit immediately and move quickly away from the tracks. You should run in the direction from which the train is coming.
• If you run in the same direction the train is traveling when the train hits your car, you could be injured by flying debris. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance.
• At a multiple-track crossing, watch 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, you should not stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
• In case of an emergency, you can report it by calling the Emergency Notification System sign by calling the phone number listed or by dialing 911.
• ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
Sadly, every four hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is struck by a train.
But hopefully, implementation of the suggestions above will assist in keeping more drivers and pedestrians safe at railroad crossings.