A recent news story offered a history of recent incidents of rail crashes resulting in death, citing 29 deaths in Colorado in the last 5 years, including both heavy rail and light rail incidents. Last week the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a press release to bring awareness to this issue and provide safety advice for railroad crossings. The PUC offered the following tips:
Rail Crossing Safety Tips for everyone:
· Always expect a train at a railroad crossing at any time, on any track, from any direction;
· Always look both directions for a train at any railroad crossing.
Rail Crossing Safety Tips for drivers:
· Don’t drive around crossing gates – it is both unsafe and illegal to do so in Colorado;
· It is both unsafe and illegal in Colorado to stop or allow yourself to become trapped on tracks. Proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping;
· Always obey warning signs at a railroad crossing whether they are passive (signs) or active (flashing lights, gates, bells).
Rail Crossing Safety Tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:
· Be alert and aware when you are around railroad tracks and at light rail and commuter rail train stations;
· Don’t wear headphones or stare at your phone when you are around railroad crossings;
· Always obey safety warnings whether they are passive (signs) or active (flashing lights, gates, bells, pedestrian swing gates);
· Don’t trespass on railroad or light rail tracks.
For more in-depth information see the PUC’s Three Year Safety and Security Audit Summary of the Metro Denver Area Regional Transportation District (RTD) Light Rail Operation 2008 through 2010, available online from our library. See also the Colorado Department of Transportation’s State Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, also available online from our library, which addresses some safety issues.