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Increase in Drivers Going Around Gates, Colliding with Trains

NHTSA and FRA Relaunch ‘Stop. Trains Can’t.’ Campaign

While collisions and deadly crashes at railroad crossings have dropped significantly over the decades, the number of drivers going around lowered gates is up.

The Federal Railroad Administration recently released its yearly numbers that detail incidents on railroad tracks, including ones where motor vehicles are involved. In 2018, 336 drivers went around a gate and were struck by a train; 99 people died in those crashes – a 10-year high.

In every state, it’s illegal for you to go around a lowered crossing gate or to ignore signs or flashing lights posted at a railroad crossing. Trains always have the right-of-way, and for good reason: Trains can’t swerve, stop quickly, or change direction to avert collisions. For example, a train going 55 miles per hour takes a mile or more to stop. It’s never worth risking your life or the lives of your passengers by trying to beat a train.

You Should Use Caution at Every Railroad Crossing

  • When approaching a railroad crossing, slow down, look both ways, and listen for a train on the tracks.
  • Do not rely on past experiences to guess when a train is coming. Trains can come from either direction at any time.
  • Never stop on the railroad tracks. Keep moving once you have entered the crossing, and—to avoid stalling—never shift gears on the tracks.

You’ve helped make our streets and railroads safer in the last several decades. The number of incidents at railroad crossings dropped from 12,000 in 1975 to 2,200 in 2018, and fatalities dropped from 917 to 270 in that same time period. But there’s still work to be done. Join NHTSA and FRA in spreading the word about Stop. Trains Can’t.

Stop. Trains Can’t.