Some tips on staying safe around railroads and railroad crossings . . .
Respect all railroad crossings!
Amazingly, over half of all collisions occur at crossings equipped with automatic signals. Do not be lulled into thinking a crossing is safe just because you have never seen a train pass by or because the warning devices are not operating. Automated warning devices can fail - freight trains can be anywhere at anytime, going in any direction. Always stop and check before you attempt to cross any railroad.
Never try to beat a train.
The stopping distance for a 6,000 ton freight train traveling 55 mph is ONE MILE. Never enter a crossing unless you have enough space to fully clear the tracks on the other side. Never shift gears while on tracks. If a gate comes down after you have started across and is blocking you, drive through it even if it means breaking the gate.
Don't forget the second train.
Never cross immediately after a train passes by, especially if there is a second track. Another train may be approaching on the other track. Many crossing fatalities result from impatience and unawareness at multiple-track crossings. After the last car of a train passes the crossing, wait at least 5 second before proceeding and ONLY AFTER YOU ARE CERTAIN no other train is coming on another track, especially from the opposite direction.
Stalled on the tracks? Get out fast!
If your vehicle is ever stalled or trapped on the track when a train is approaching, waste no time getting everyone out of the car and away from the tracks. Do not stop to take any items with you. When the train strikes the vehicle it will send metal and glass flying ahead and outward from the train so run away from the tracks at an angle in the direction of the approaching train.
Never walk on railroad tracks
Many people use railroad tracks as paths or to gain access to recreation areas, etc. Railroad property is private property and being on it is trespassing - local rail companies will prosecute violators. Over 500 people are killed each year in the United States and many others are critically injured while walking on or crossing railroad tracks. Don't do it - it's illegal and dangerous.
Whenever you are near tracks...
Crawling under or between, or climbing over the cars of a stopped train is inviting trouble - you can be seriously injured or killed if the train should start up suddenly. Never wear headphones near tracks as they might keep you from hearing an oncoming train. Stay back from passing trains to avoid being hit by items that may be projecting out from the side of a shifted load. Throwing rocks near or placing objects on a track is dangerous and against the law. These pranks could cause a train derailment which could be catastrophic. Attempted train wrecking is a federal and state crime. Placing even the smallest object on the rails can create a very dangerous situation for people on the trains or nearby. Cross tracks only at public streets and always remember to look both ways and listen for trains before making your crossing.