The unfortunate death of an Earl Park man driving a tractor across railroad tracks when he was struck by a train is a stark reminder that rail transit and farmers must still co-exist in rural areas. While many tracks don't carry the number of trains they once did, a large amount of goods still travel by rail. When the train reaches rural crossings, often there are no flashing lights that warn that a train is coming.
Some rural crossings are such that brush has grown up along the railroad right-of-way on each side of the track. It means you must pull up relatively close before coming to the required, complete stop to check for a train. That can add to the danger quotient.
Here are tips put together by several federal agencies. They include the U.S.. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.
One. Approach with care. – For reasons just stated above, it's necessary to slow down and prepare to look both ways as soon as possible when approaching a rural crossing. Turn on flashers to warn those behind you that you're stopping.
Two. Prepare to stop- Turn off fans and the radio, and roll down the window as you approach. Locate your cell phone for use in an emergency. Don't let yourself be distracted by talking on the phone. Here's the tough part- stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from the nearest rail.
Three. Look and listen- Do it both ways, and do it right. Bend forward in your seat to see around mirrors and other possible obstacles.
Four. If it won't fit, don't commit- Trains extend beyond the rails at least three feet on each side. That's why you don't want to do a slow roll until you're nearly on top of the tracks. Be aware of the overhang of anything you're carrying.
Five. Look again- Looking once isn't enough. Remember, your life depends upon it.
Six. Cross with care- Use the highest gear that will let you cross without shifting. Make sure you signal other cares that might be in the vicinity.
Seven. Keep going once you start! Even if lights start to flash or gates come down, if you're committed and the train is not eminent, keep going across the tracks if you've already committed yourself to cross it.