COLUMBUS, Ohio– Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States. Many crashes at railroad crossings occur because motorists fail to stop at the crossing, drive around the gates or stop/stall on the tracks.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is encouraging you to practice caution when traveling over rail crossings by following these seven steps for safety.
- Approach with care. Warn others that you are slowing down. Turn on 4-way flashers. Use pull-out lane if available.
- Prepare to stop. Turn off fans and radio and roll down windows. Locate your cell phone for use in emergency. Stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from nearest rail.
- Look and listen both ways, carefully. Bend forward to see around mirrors and other vehicle parts blocking view.
- If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. Remember your vehicle – and cargo – overhang.
- Look again. Before you move, look again in both directions.
- Cross tracks with care. Signal, watch for a safe gap, pull back onto the road if you used a pull-out lane. Use highest gear that will let you cross without shifting.
- Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.
Every rail crossing in Ohio is required to post the U.S. Department of Transportation number associated with the crossing and the emergency contact number for the railroad. If your vehicle stalls or gets stuck on the tracks, get out immediately and move away from the tracks at a 45 degree angle towards any oncoming train. Once it is safe to do so, the emergency number, visibly located near the crossing on the light poles or cross bucks, should be the first number you call if your vehicle is stuck or if warning devices aren’t properly functioning. The railroad has the ability to stop the flow of train traffic heading towards the crossing. If it is an emergency, next call 9-1-1 or the local police.
With 36 freight railroads operating approximately 5,300 miles of track and over 5,700 public grade crossings, Ohio is the fifth leading state in terms of goods transported by rail. The PUCO, in conjunction with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, is responsible for ensuring the safety of motorists at highway-rail grade crossings in Ohio. PUCO rail inspectors inspect the warning devices that are essential for motorist safety.
The Ohio Rail Hotline, at (866) 814-RAIL (7245), provides Ohioans with a toll-free resource for all railroad crossing questions. For more information regarding these crossings, access the Ohio railroad information system website at http://gradecrossings.puco.ohio.gov/. For more information on rail crossing safety, visit www.PUCO.ohio.gov.