Getting Across the Tracks
When you approach a rail crossing, look beneath the crossbuck sign to see if there's a sign telling you
there is more than one track. If there is more than one track, don't try to cross right away after a train
passes. Wait to be sure another train isn't coming from the other direction on another track—it might be hidden by
the first train.
Many crossings have gates with flashing red lights and bells. When the lights begin to flash, you must stop. The flashing
lights mean a train is coming. It's against the law to go around lowered gates. When the gates go up and the lights
have stopped flashing, you can go. If lights are flashing at a crossing without gates, you must stop. Proceed only if a train is not visible.
If there are no gates or flashing lights, wait long enough after the train passes to get a clear view in each direction before starting across the tracks.
What to do if you stall on the tracks
If your car stalls or is trapped on the tracks, get everyone out right away, even if you don't see a train coming.
Move quickly away from the tracks. If a train is coming, move in its direction as you move away from the tracks. If you
run the same direction the train is going, you could be injured by flying debris when the train hits your car. When
you're at a safe distance from the crossing, call the railroad emergency number if posted at the crossing, or 9-1-1.
The railroad emergency number should be called first if it is available so dispatchers can take action.
Tips for Drivers of Special Vehicles
Motorcyclists should approach all highway-rail intersections very slowly. Be alert to the possibility of a
rough crossing. Always cross the tracks at as close to a 90 degree angle as possible to avoid getting wheels caught in the tracks.
In Minnesota, school buses and commercial buses are required to stop at every highway-rail grade crossing. The driver
must open the service door and the window, turn off the fan and radio, signal for silence, look and listen for trains
approaching from either direction, and cross only when it is safe to do so. Before crossing be sure there is enough
space to clear the tracks on the other side if a stop becomes necessary. Never stop on the tracks.
Never change gears while crossing, so the bus won't stall on the tracks.
Trucks carrying hazardous materials
Federal regulations and the laws of most states require trucks carrying hazardous materials to stop at all highway-rail grade crossings. Stop gradually to avoid being rear-ended. Never change gears while crossing the tracks. Whenever possible, use roads where railroad crossings are equipped with flashing red lights or gates.
Source: Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
Basic Safety Tips at Highway-Rail Crossings
Signs and Signals
How Long Does It Take a Train to Stop?
Frequently Asked Questions