Ask a Sheriff: Can you provide some railroad safety tips?

A: A freight train moving at 50 mph may need more than a mile to stop. Once train engineers see a vehicle or pedestrian in a crossing or on the tracks, all they can do is apply the emergency brakes; however, it’s often too late for them to stop in time.

Most collisions with trains are preventable. Driver inattention and impatience are cited as the most common factors contributing to motor vehicle-train crashes.

•Always stop your vehicle when crossing gates are down or lights are flashing; wait for the crossing gates to rise and lights to stop flashing; look both ways, listen and proceed with caution.

•Obey all signs and signals at railroad crossings.

•Never stop your car on railroad tracks; always keep your car behind the white lines when approaching an intersection at railroad tracks.

•Get out of the car immediately if it stalls while crossing the tracks, and call 911 or the emergency notification number located on the railroad signal equipment. If a train is coming, abandon the car. Proceed quickly towards the train at a 45-degree angle so that if the train strikes your car, you will be safe from flying debris.

Bicyclists and pedestrians should:

•always look both ways before crossing railroad tracks and cross only in designated areas.

•not cross tracks when gates are down.

•be aware that trains may operate any time throughout the day and night in either direction.

•be aware that walking on the railroad tracks is illegal.

(Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation)–Sheriff Joel Brott