Train Track Safety

There’s a lot on farmers’ minds during harvest season. As they’re hauling equipment down the road and come across a railroad crossing, they might be tempted to beat the train, or not even think to look for one coming.

David Huntley is a grade crossing inspector with the Federal Railroad Administration. He says many times rural crossings are rough crossings. Farmers might be hauling several wagons behind the tractor and misjudge the speed of an oncoming train.

"They’ll get the tractor or the truck across, but some of the equipment is huge, sometimes there’s something in the way and they have to do like a zig-zag around, they’re paying attention to what’s behind them and not what’s coming at them," says Huntley. "They try to clear because they’ve got to get to wherever they’re going and they don’t make it."

Trains are wider than the track. Before you pull onto the track, make sure there is enough room on the other side for you to be at least six-feet beyond the furthest rail. If you get stuck on the track, get out of your vehicle.

"We can replace farm equipment, we can’t replace the farmer. Run down the road you drove up, don’t run toward the train, don’t run away from the train, at a right angle away from the tracks," he says. "We’re trying to encourage farmers to cut corners at 45-degree angles to allow for visibility. Railroads are required to cut vegetation and to keep the signage up, so we try to provide every warning there is, but always it’s up to the person to look for the train."

If you need to call for help, call 911 or look for a blue sign with the railroad’s emergency phone number. Provide the name of the road, and the DOT crossing identification number if it’s posted.

Learn more about safety at railroad crossings