Governor's Traffic Safety Committee

Rail Crossing Safety

Introduction | Programs & Solutions | FAQs | Safety Tips
Related Sites & Sources | Vehicle & Traffic Law | Brochures & Publications | Audio & Video

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do a vehicle and train collide in the U.S.?

About every 90 minutes a vehicle and train collide in the U.S.

Is a train/vehicle crash more serious than other vehicle crashes?

Yes. You are 30 times more likely to die in a crash with a train than with another motor vehicle. A derailment could result and if a freight train is involved, there is a possibility that hazardous material being transported by the train could become involved and endanger an entire community.

How many people are killed or seriously injured in this type of crash?

Collisions at highway-rail grade crossings killed or seriously injured approximately 2500 people in 1994 and about the same number in 1995.

Where do these crashes usually occur?

Most vehicle/train crashes occur at highway/rail grade crossings within 25 miles of the motorist's home.

How long does it take a train to stop?

Remember, trains cannot stop quickly:

Is it illegal to go around gates which are down or through flashing lights?

Yes. Section 1170 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires that a driver stop no less than 15 feet from the nearest rail.

What vehicles are required to stop at all grade crossings?

Section 1171 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law requires certain vehicles to stop at all railroad crossings, including:

However, no stop need be made at any such crossing where a police officer or a traffic-control signal or sign directs traffic to proceed.

The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (Section 1176) also prohibits events obstructing highway-railroad grade crossings.

What should I do to avoid a crash with a train?

Always obey pertinent laws and traffic warning signals. Use caution. Be prepared to stop - look, listen and live.

What is Operation Lifesaver?

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. is a non-profit international public information, education, engineering and enforcement program dedicated to reducing crashes, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. It has active committees in 49 states and Canada. New York State Operation Lifesaver, Inc. membership includes federal, state and local agencies, railroads, law enforcement agencies and volunteers.

What does Operation Lifesaver do to educate the public about the dangers at highway-rail grade crossings and trespassing on railroad tracks and rights of way?

The New York Committee has three speakers bureaus in the state which have Level I and Level II certified Operation Lifesaver presenters who make presentations at schools, service and social clubs, fraternal and various safety groups, and Operation Lifesaver also participates in special events taking place throughout the year.

Safety Tips

  1. Do not walk or drive any vehicle on or near rails or climb on railroad cars. Walking on the rails may seem like fun, but you're taking the chance of being hit by the train.
  2. When crossing the railroad tracks on foot, always cross at the highway-rail grade crossing and obey all signs and signals. Stay off railroad bridges and trestles, and out of tunnels. They are not wide enough for both you and a train to be there at the same time. And it is you who will get trapped.
  3. Never drive or walk around gates or flashing red lights. If the gates are down, stop and stay in place. Do not cross the tracks until the gates are raised and the lights have stopped flashing. Some highway rail crossings have multiple tracks. Make sure there isn't a second train hidden behind the first train.
  4. Expect a train on any track at any time. Most trains do not travel on a regular schedule. Be cautious at a highway-rail grade crossing at any time of the day or night.
  5. Don't get trapped on a highway-rail grade crossing. Never drive onto a highway-rail grade crossing until you are sure you can clear the tracks. Once you have started across the tracks, keep going.
  6. Get out of your vehicle if it stalls. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, get everyone out and off the tracks immediately. If a train is coming, quickly move away from the tracks but in the direction from which the train is approaching.

Information  Remember: Any time is train time, and when it's a tie at the crossing, you lose.

Programs & Solutions


See the New York State Operation Lifesaver Page.