Information provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation; courtesy photo
A train traveling at 55 miles per hour takes a mile to stop – the length of 18 football fields or more – after applying the emergency brakes. Between 2013 and 2017, 14 people were killed and 36 were injured in vehicle-train crashes in Colorado. Driver distraction and ignoring posted signs or signals are common factors in such crashes, and 67% of railroad crossing collisions occur in clear weather conditions.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other partners are launching a new railroad crossing safety campaign, “Stop. Trains Can’t” to remind drivers and pedestrians to use caution when crossing railroad tracks.
“It’s incredibly important for drivers to obey railroad crossing signs, pay attention and always be aware of their surroundings,” said Johnny Olson, deputy executive director of CDOT. “Drivers should never take the chance and try to beat a train across the track.”
The “Stop. Trains Can’t” campaign reminds drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to look for the train and observe crossing devices. Because trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a crash, everyone must yield to trains and proceed with caution. Rail crossing crashes are preventable and never worth the unnecessary risk.
Drivers are urged to follow these tips to stay safe when crossing railroad tracks:
When approaching a railroad crossing, slow down, look and listen for a train on the tracks, especially at “passive” crossings without gates and lights.
Look carefully in both directions before crossing a railroad track – even during the day.
Do not rely on past experiences to guess when a train is coming. Trains can come from either direction at any time.
Never race a train. It is easy to misjudge a train’s speed and distance from the crossing.
Before entering a railroad crossing, check that there is enough room on the other side of the tracks for your vehicle to cross completely and safely. Be aware that you may need to cross multiple sets of tracks at some railroad crossings.
Never stop on the railroad tracks. Keep moving once you have entered the crossing. To avoid stalling, never shift gears on the tracks.
If your vehicle stalls on a railroad track, quickly move away from the track and your vehicle at a 45-degree angle. Call the number on the Emergency Notification System sign, or, if the sign is not visible to you, dial 911 for help.
For More Information on the “Stop. Trains Can’t” railroad safety campaign, visit