Rail crossing safety is once again an industry focus after an Amtrak train carrying members of Congress crashed into a garbage truck and killed a collection worker in Virginia the morning of Jan. 31. The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, in partnership with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Silver Spring, Maryland, issued rail crossing driving tips to help drivers and collection workers be safer when approaching train tracks on the job.

  • Don’t Drive Distracted: Turn off all mobile devices, cell phones and radios.
  • Trains and Vehicles Don’t Mix: Never race a train to the crossing.
  • The Train is Closer and Faster-Moving Than You Think: If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you cross.
  • Be Aware That Trains Cannot Stop Quickly: 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
  • Do Not Get Trapped on The Tracks: The train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If You Stall on the Tracks, Get Out, Move Far Away and Call 911: Move quickly away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming to avoid being injured by flying debris.
  • At a MultiTrack Crossing: Watch for a second train on the other tracks.
  • When Crossing Tracks: Look both ways and ahead to assure your entire vehicle will cross safely, then cross quickly without stopping.
  • Always Expect a Train: Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
  • When in Doubt, Stop: With plenty of space behind the stop line.