Watch for trains

Brandon Archambeau, General Manager, Montana Division, BNSF Railway

From Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the Sheyenne National Grassland, North Dakota offers boundless natural wonders to explore. These outdoor adventures and long August days have been treasured more than ever this year. As summer comes to a close, though, we shift our focus to harvest and sending the kids back to school. It’s a good time to remind friends and family about safety near railroad tracks.

Remember that if you see railroad tracks, there will be a train!

As you approach railroad tracks, remember that trains are big, heavy, fast, and extremely hard to stop. It takes more than a mile to stop a train because they weigh between 12 and 20 million pounds. The next time you’re at a train crossing, look down the track and find a point about 18 football fields away. Can you even see the point where the emergency breaking would have to start, in order to stop at your intersection? And unlike a car, a train can’t make even a minor course correction.

To raise awareness about the need for caution near tracks and trains in the U.S., the rail safety, nonprofit organization Operation Lifesaver was started nearly 50 years ago. Through public safety education campaigns, Operation Lifesaver educates people who are at risk for these incidents. BNSF is a supporter and advocate for Operation Lifesaver.

You can protect yourself and loved ones by following these safety tips:

– Look and listen for trains as you approach any railroad crossing — obey all signs, warning lights and gates.

– Trains are quieter and faster than you think — never try to beat a train.

– Always expect a train on any track, in any direction; avoid distractions when you approach a crossing.

– 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.

– Railroad bridges and tunnels are extremely dangerous. Railroad bridges are not diving platforms. Never walk on a bridge or enter a tunnel.

– Don’t stand or stop a vehicle close to tracks when a crossing gate is down. Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions and loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further.

– Trains can move in either direction at any time on multi-track sections. Even as one train passes, another could be coming from the opposite direction.

– Don’t assume railroad tracks are unused. If there are rails on the railroad ties always assume the track is in use.

Let’s be safe out there, and work together to make preventable railroad crossing and trespassing incidents a thing of the past.


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