Few days ago, a woman had her car stuck on rail track and was subsequently killed as she was unable to get out before the train collided with the car. News media were awash with theories of why and how car get stuck. But at most important is the safety precaution needed to be exercised to prevent more avoidable death. More so as Nigeria has continue to increase it railway infrastructure.
Car getting stick on rail track is not exclusive to Nigeria. People need to be educated so that do not find their way in the situation. Such collision always lead to fatal injury, loss or death
Whether the car broke down on the tracks or was hemmed in by traffic, it can happen and when this happens, one must be have fair idea what to do when caught in the situation.
According to Operation Lifesaver, a rail crossing safety awareness nonprofit., drivers are 20 times more likely to die in a crash with a train than in a crash with another car.
“The simplest thing to know is that in a collision between a train and a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle always loses,” said Jon Paul, senior manager of traffic safety and public affairs for AAA Northeast.
Below are some tips on how to avoid being a causality.
Respect the gate…
The first thing to know about getting stuck on a railroad crossing is don’t get stuck on a railroad crossing.
“Approach a train crossing as if a train is present,” said Paul, urging drivers to be cautious around crossings, even in the apparent absence of a train. And when a train is coming, don’t try to beat it across.
“Respect the gate. Don’t try to make it under the gate,” Paul said, also noting that drivers should stay outside the marked “stop line.”
According to Operation Lifesaver, trains are three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
The public safety group also notes that driving under or around lowered gates is “illegal and deadly.”
…until you shouldn’t.
In the case that one does get stuck on the track, between the two arms of the gates, Paul says “drive right through it.”
Such gates are on a hinge and made of light material, and thus easily breakable, he said. As is written on the Indiana Department of Transportation website, the purpose to railroad crossing gates is “as a warning to drivers, not as an impenetrable barrier.”
Room for one more?
Even when the gates are raised, drivers should check to make sure there is ample room on the other side of the tracks, as a short video from Operation Lifesaver illustrates. According to the group, the average car length is 15 feet, and any closer to the rail than that distance is unsafe.
Operation Lifesaver even has a catchy phrase for the rule: “If it won’t fit, don’t commit.”
According to the group, motorists should only drive over a rail crossing if they are able to do so completely without stopping.
Remember, the train isn’t going to stop
If the car is unable to be moved immediately from the train’s path—for whatever reason—the message is again fairly simple.
“Get out of the car immediately,” Paul said. “Don’t expect that the train is going to stop.”
It’s worth repeating: Get out and away from the car.
While an engineer can work to slow the train, as occurred in the Belmont crash, even when the emergency brake is applied, it can take more than a mile for a train to fully stop. According to Libby Rector Snipe, the communications director for Operation Lifesaver, the stopping distance for a freight train is roughly 18 football fields.
Paul says there is a myth, perhaps disseminated by movies or popular culture, that the train will be able to brake in time to stop for a trapped vehicle. But as Paul noted, the mile stopping distance is much farther than one’s field of vision.
“Get out of the car and run,” he reiterated.
Run—but not in the direction you might think
Particularly for those in a close call, the “get out and run” direction is slightly nuanced. While it may feel instinctive to run away from the direction from which the train is coming, that is actually the exact opposite of what experts recommend.
“If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris,” Rector Snipes said.
Instead, she said to run in the direction the train is coming at a 45 degree angles away from the tracks. And run far.
Paul says the force with which a train can hit can push the car several hundred feet, but thats not accounting for flying debris from the collision. As any number of internet videos will illustrate, train-car crashes can yield an explosive result.
And Finally, use only Authorized Road Crossing
As with the case of some reported tragedies, many rail crossing across the country are not legally recognized. They have no barricade or officials monitoring them. Users are completely on their own. There is no signal to indicate the approach of oncoming train
In such situation it is advised to use legally recognized road. At least one can get help on time when a situation built.
Avoid using such road at night.
Article adapted and modified from boston.com