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“Any Time Is Train Time” – Never Underestimate the Danger of an Oncoming Train

A recent train crash in the Binghampton area of Memphis serves as a reminder to us all – be extremely careful when approaching train tracks. In the early hours of November 14, 2017, a train collided with a vehicle in Binghampton near Pershing Avenue and Scott Street. According to Memphis Police Department, the law enforcement agency that responded to the scene, the driver got caught between the railroad arms as she was crossing over the tracks. Fortunately, she had enough time to get out of her vehicle and out of harm’s way.

Unique Dangers Involving Trains

It takes much longer for a train to come to a stop than it does for cars and SUVs driven by private citizens. Below are interesting statistics to put all of this in context:

  • A private passenger car traveling 55 miles per hour requires 200 feet to come to a complete stop.
  • A commercial van or bus requires approximately 230 feet.
  • A freight train requires nearly 5,280 feet (1 mile) to come to a complete stop. This is the length of nearly 18 football fields.

Always Be on the Lookout for Trains

A popular saying is “Any time is train time.” As you approach a set of train tracks, it is recommended that you use extra caution. Below are tips that motorists should follow near train tracks, as compiled from safety experts and organizations nationwide.

  • Recognize that no matter the time of day, a train may be coming down the tracks. Trains can run in either direction on a track.
  • Be careful about multiple tracks at a single crossing. Once you cross over one track, a train could be coming from the opposite direction on the next track.
  • Do not try to beat the train. If you see the train crossing lights come on, do not enter the tracks. You could get stuck when the gates are lowered.
  • If you get stuck on train tracks or if your car stalls, get out immediately and head towards a safe place. Ensure passengers are able to safely exit the vehicle. Property, like a car, can always be replaced, but human life cannot.
  • Pedestrians should use the utmost caution when running, walking, or jogging beside a train track.
  • Drive slowly around train tracks during inclement weather, such as rain or fog. During inclement weather or darkness, it may be more difficult to perceive a train.

Railroad workers should already be aware of these tips, as they are employed in an inherently dangerous industry. If you were working on a railroad and suffered injuries, you may be eligible for a claim under FELA, the Federal Employers Liability Act. This federal law compensates railroad workers who suffer on-the-job injuries. FELA has provisions involving reimbursement of medical costs and lost wages, depending on the extent of the injury.

Of all motor vehicle accidents, train wrecks can produce some of the most devastating consequences, such as permanent injury or death. This is primarily due to the immense size and weight of a freight train as compared to a much smaller car. Like anything else, awareness of potential issues can help prevent unnecessary accidents. By following the tips listed above, we can all take steps to prevent unnecessary tragedy from taking place.