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Why You Should Run Towards The Train!

Railroad crossing

Your Car Stalls on Railroad Tracks

What should you do if your car stalls on the tracks at railroad crossing and a train is approaching?

Do not assume you have time to push your car off the tracks. It is extremely hard to judge the speed or distance of a moving train. Approaching trains create optical illusions, appearing to move slower and be farther away than they actually are.

Get Out and Away From Your Car

Do not stand beside your car and try to make the train stop. Trains cannot swerve or stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph may need a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. Trust me, that is a lot of football fields!

Instead you must leave your car and quickly run away from the tracks. Then comes the tricky part. In which direction should you run?

The correct answer is towards the train – which is the same as “the direction from which the train is approaching”.

Common Reactions

Some users react to this:

I can’t run in the opposite direction of the train. I’ll get killed.

How can that be right? I will run into the train!

Read the Advice Again

Remember, the first part is to stay clear of the tracks! Move beside the tracks, not on the tracks. This should be pretty obvious, shouldn’t it?

Secondly, think about what will happen when the train hits the car. When the train strikes the car it will send flying metal and glass ahead and outward from the locomotive!

Read that part again: debris will be flying ahead and outward from the locomotive!

It will not fly back in the direction from which the train is approaching. That is why so important that you (and your passengers) run far enough away from the tracks and in the direction of the oncoming train so you will not be hit by the flying debris.

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7 Comments

  1. What if there is a car in front of you, a car behind you, and a car on the side of you, and you are trapped on the railroad can you hit the car in front of you! What is the railroad phone number?

    • The emergency phone number is posted on a blue sign beside the crossing.

      Before entering a crossing, you must always make sure you can drive completely across. If traffic is backed up on the other side, you must NOT enter the crossing!

      Being trapped with a car beside you is a highly unlikely event.

  2. This is stupid people will get hit and die! Save your life and run away from the tracks. You will get hit by pieces of your car from the train hitting it.

    • Brittany, it seems that you didn’t really understand the basic physics here.

      The first part is to stay clear of the tracks! Then you run in the direction from which the train is approaching. A good rule of thumb is to run along the tracks or up to 45 degree away from tracks. Following this advice means you will NOT be hit by the debris (that is the whole point).

      Running in any other direction increases the risk of being hit by debris and puts you in danger.

  3. Another rationale that might be easier for motorists to remember is this. If the train is a few miles distant and you run toward it (not on the tracks), you may have a chance to flag down the train so it can stop before striking your stranded vehicle.

  4. I do not understand what you mean by “towards the train” being in the opposite direction of the train.

    • It was meant as a clarification. Same direction as the train is traveling, or the opposite direction.

      But I guess the direction from which the train is approaching makes it clearer.

      The text above has been edited and opposite direction of the train has been replaced.

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