I know most of you have seen the movie “Stand By Me” with the iconic scene of the kids running across a train bridge being chased by a locomotive. At the very last second the kids jump to safety and live to tell the tale.
As cool as that scene was, we need to remember the movie was made in Hollywood. It is not real life. Walking or playing around railroad tracks or crossings is extremely dangerous and it is also illegal.
The CHP wants you to be safe and patient around railroad crossings, whether you are on foot or in a vehicle. Pedestrian crossings should be used at all times when traversing railroad tracks. The only safe place to cross the tracks is at a designated public crossing like a crosswalk, flashing red lights or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be issued a citation.
Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are considered private property, and trespassers are subject to arrest and/or a fine. If you are in a railyard, uninvited by a railroad official, you are trespassing and subject to criminal prosecution.
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Additionally do not hunt, fish, or jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass, as displayed in the film “Stand By Me.” Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges. Never walk, run, cycle, or operate all-terrain vehicles on any railroad tracks.
Drivers trying to beat trains at grade crossings are a dangerous mix. Never race a train to the crossing. This is a race you do not want to be in because even if you tie, you lose!
The train you see is much closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before proceeding to cross the tracks.
Understand that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you and tries to stop, a freight train, moving at 55 mph, can take more than a mile to come to a stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That is more than 18 football fields long! This is why it is important to never drive around lowered railroad crossing gates. It is both illegal and deadly.
California Vehicle Code Section 22450(b) states in part, the driver of a vehicle approaching a stop sign at a railroad grade crossing shall stop at a limit line, if marked, otherwise before crossing the first track or entrance to the railroad grade crossing.
Trains have the right of way, so it is crucial to stay alert around railroad tracks at all times. Do not text, use headphones, or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.
If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
You may need to find another route to your destination. Don’t become impatient and make a decision to cross the tracks when the signals indicate not to.
If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks and call 911 for assistance. You can always get a new car; you can’t get a new you!
And remember, the train is 3 feet wider than the tracks on both sides, so your vehicle could still be struck even if it isn’t directly on top of the tracks.
A solid practice while driving is to remember it’s not safe to stop any closer than 15 feet from a railroad crossing. Stay alert, be smart, and let’s all work together to make the roads a safer place to drive.