4 Big Myths About Cars and Trains

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Last week in Atlanta, a train collided with a steamroller at Toonigh Road and New McEver Road. The vehicle was stuck on the track while the crew were re-paving the road when the train collided with it. The driver of the vehicle was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, according to a report from WSB-TV Atlanta. Although this incident was related to construction activity, there are many occasions when motorists and trains collide under often fatal circumstances.

There are more than 2,500 train accidents with vehicles each year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

As of June 2016, there were approximately 433 fatalities from train accidents. There are many reasons for accidents between cars and trains, but at least some of them are related to false truths drivers believe about trains.

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Here, we debunk four big myths that could put drivers at risk.

1. Cars Can Outrun Trains

Many drivers assume they can outrun a train by judging its distance. That is not the case. A train’s size in the distance can fool a driver into believing it’s far away and that it is moving much slower than it really is, according to a report from The Sun Sentinel.

Not only that, though. A freight train traveling at 30 mph needs more than half a mile to come to a complete stop when it brakes. When you double the speed to 60 mph, the distance for the train to stop is now a mile and a half, according to The Sun Sentinel.

You should never try to predict the distance of an approaching train. Even if the train appears to be miles and miles away, do not risk trying to cross the tracks. Wait until the train passes to cross tracks.

2. It’s OK to Drive Around Those Gates

Last year in Henry County, a train struck and killed a mother and her two children in their minivan when they tried to bypass the safety gates, according to WSB-TV Atlanta. The railroad crossing lights were flashing and the safety gates were down when the minivan went around them. When the vehicle got onto the track, a freight train collided with it.

Even if a train is nowhere in sight, do not cross the gate. Wait for it to rise before proceeding. You just never know.

3. You Have Time To Move A Stuck Car On A Track

When a vehicle gets stuck on a track, some drivers assume that they have time to figure out how to move their car off the track. They may proceed to struggle with the vehicle as a train is approaching in the distance until it becomes too late.

If you find yourself in a car that is stuck on a track, get out of the car and move as far away from the tracks as possible. Drivers should run toward the train at a 45-degree angle to avoid being hit by flying debris when the collision occurs, Operation Lifesaver president Joyce Rose told the New York Times in 2015.

4. There Is Always Only One Train Passing

Drivers are not always aware that there are multiple track crossings and that more than one train may be coming during a crossing. They may proceed to cross before verifying that no other oncoming trains are coming and risk being hit by another train when they pass a first crossing.

If you find yourself near a multiple railroad crossing and the last car of a train passes, look both ways to make sure it is clear before proceeding. (Assuming you’re at a crossing without gates.) There may be another train behind the first one or a train that is approaching from the opposite direction. Also, keep an eye out for train horns that may be signaling their arrival.

These 4 myths about cars and trains might help you become more aware of what to do around railroad crossings.

However, accidents may still occur even when you have undertaken measures to stay safe. Read more to learn what our attorneys could do to help people after a car accident. If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.

By Staff

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