14 people killed in car-train collisions in Colorado between 2013 and 2017
The Colorado Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other partners are launching a new railroad crossing safety campaign, “Stop. Trains Can’t” to remind drivers and pedestrians to use caution when crossing railroad tracks. Between 2013 and 2017, 14 people were killed and 36 were injured in vehicle-train crashes in Colorado. Driver distraction and ignoring posted signs or signals are common factors in such crashes.
“It’s incredibly important for drivers to obey railroad crossing signs, pay attention, and always be aware of their surroundings,” said Johnny Olson, Deputy Executive Director of CDOT. “Drivers should never take the chance and try to beat a train across the track.”
The “Stop. Trains Can’t” campaign reminds drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians to look for the train and observe crossing devices. Because trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a crash everyone must yield to trains and proceed with caution. Rail crossing crashes are preventable and never worth the unnecessary risk.
“The ways that people move in Colorado are changing quickly, and as residents and visitors combine different modes of transportation to get around, we all agree that safety is a top priority,” said NHTSA Regional Administrator Gina Mia Espinosa-Salcedo. “Federal, state, and local partners are promoting ‘Stop. Trains Can’t’ to reinforce the dangers around rail tracks, and prevent traffic incidents that involve a train.”
Drivers are urged to follow these tips to stay safe when crossing a railroad:
- When approaching a railroad crossing, slow down, look, and listen for a train on the tracks, especially at “passive” crossings without gates and lights.
- Look carefully in both directions before crossing a rail track—even during the day. Sixty-seven percent of railroad crossing collisions occur in clear weather conditions.
- Do not rely on past experiences to guess when a train is coming. Trains can come from either direction at any time.
- Never race a train. It is easy to misjudge a train’s speed and distance from the crossing.
- Before entering a railroad crossing, check that there is enough room on the other side of the tracks for your vehicle to cross completely and safely. Be aware that you may need to cross multiple sets of tracks at some railroad crossings.
- Never stop on the railroad tracks. Keep moving once you have entered the crossing. To avoid stalling, never shift gears on the tracks.
- If your vehicle stalls on a railroad track, quickly move away from the track and your vehicle at a 45-degree angle. Call the number on the Emergency Notification System sign, or, if the sign is not visible to you, dial 911 for help.
A train traveling at 55 miles per hour takes a mile to stop — the length of 18 football fields or more—after applying the emergency brakes.
Safety is a top priority for the federal and state departments of transportation, and for Denver safety partners. 94 percent of all rail-related injuries and deaths occur at railroad crossings, and every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States. CDOT, the Regional Transportation District, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration are working together with the City of Denver and Denver Vision Zero to promote rail grade crossing safety awareness, including the “Stop. Trains Can’t” campaign.
In 2018, 270 people were killed at railroad crossings, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration which was a 10-year high. Of those, 99 people died after the driver went around lowered crossing gate arms. In fact, from 2014–2018, the 1,538 drivers that were struck accounted for 14 percent of all train collisions—these were preventable crashes caused by risky driving behaviors and poor decision-making.
To heighten safety awareness, CDOT’s Whole System – Whole Safety initiative takes a systematic statewide approach to safety that address driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s entire transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes, and improving safety conditions for those traveling by all transportation modes. “Stop. Trains Can’t.” complements CDOT’s priority to get everyone home safely using multiple modes of transportation.
For More Information on “Stop. Trains Can’t.” visit https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/rail-grade-crossing/stop-trains-cant