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10. Sharing the Road

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Train Statistics

In any given year, over 600 people die and an additional 1,300 or more are seriously injured in highway-rail grade crossing collisions. Over 1,000 people are injured or killed while trespassing on railroad rights-of-way and property each year.

A trains strikes a pedestrian or vehicle about once every two hours. The impact of a train with a vehicle has the same ratio as a vehicle running over an aluminum can.

There are approximately 260,000 public, private, and pedestrian at-grade crossings in the United States. Nearly 50% of collisions at public grade crossings occur where active warning devices (gates, lights, bells) exist.

Train and pedestrian or motor vehicle crashes are very severe. A motorist is 40 times as likely to die in a collision with a train as in all other types of motor vehicle accidents. More people die in highway-rail collisions each year than in commercial airline crashes in an average year.

The majority of vehicle-train crashes occur when the train is traveling less than 30 miles per hour. Trains cannot stop quickly.

The stopping distance for a freight train of approximately 6,000 tons, traveling at 55 mph, is 5,280 feet -- one mile. At that

distance, the train crew cannot see you on the tracks. An average freight train traveling at 30 mph, or an eight-car passenger train traveling at 60 mph, requires 2/3 of a mile (3,500 feet) to stop. An eight-car passenger train traveling at 79 mph requires 1- 1/8 miles (6000 feet) to stop.

Because a train cannot swerve from the rails and requires a much longer stopping distance than a highway vehicle, motorists must always yield to trains.

Don't misjudge a train's speed and distance. Because of the large size of trains and the viewing angle at which you see them, they appear to move much slower than you think. If you have any doubts, stop and wait for the train to pass.

The most common place for vehicles and railroad trains to meet is at railroad-highway crossings. Railroad-highway crossings are a special type of intersection. Like other intersections, they may be grade-separated, meaning that you must drive over a raised portion of the roadway to cross railroad tracks.

Approach railroad crossings with the caution you would use when approaching any intersection. Be prepared to yield to the train.

Signs warn you that you are approaching a railroad crossing. A circular yellow sign containing a large "X" means you are approaching a RR crossing. When you see this sign you should look and listen for trains in both directions. Be ready to stop, if necessary.

You should expect a train on any track at any time. Freight trains do not travel on a regular schedule, and passenger train schedules change several times a year. Be cautious at a grade crossing at any time of the day or night.

Never race a train to a crossing. Even if you tie, you still lose.


Lesson Summary


  

Lesson 10 Quiz


You will now answer 5 questions to test what you learned during this lesson. You must answer all questions correctly to receive completion credit for this lesson. You may answer the questions as many times as necessary to get them right.

You should review the lesson material if you don't do well on the quiz.

  1. An orange trianglular sign on the back of a vehicle means:


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  2. The most common collision in a work zone is from:


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  3. In the United States, a bicyclist is killed:


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  4. Pedestrians comprise about what ratio of traffic fatalities?


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  5. If you fail to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights:


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