It's a terrifying thing to consider: What would you do if your car got stuck on the railroad tracks with a train quickly approaching? It might seem like something that happens only in movies, but collisions with trains happen all the time. In 2017 alone, there were more than 2,100 collisions with trains and vehicles. Half of these accidents occurred within five miles of the driver's home. And even worse, drivers are much more likely to be killed in a crash with a train than with another car.
Having your car get stuck on track tracks is the last situation you'd want to find yourself in. But if you wind up getting stuck in your car on train tracks, knowing what to do can mean the difference between staying safe and serious injury--or even death.
Here are some ways you can avoid becoming yet another statistic. At any point during reading this page, feel free to contact our San Diego Car Accident Lawyers today for a free consultation.
Here's What You Should Do If Your Car Gets Stuck On The Railroad.
In 2015, a train crashed into a sports-utility vehicle, leaving the tracks destroyed and six people dead. After this devastating accident, safety experts have outlined some of the best practices for dealing with emergencies like these.
If you should find yourself facing down a train after getting stuck on the tracks, you need to know the top strategies to protect yourself. Let's take a look at the steps you should take to keep yourself and others in your car safe.
1. Respect the Gate - The first step to avoiding a railroad crossing collision is to not get stuck on the rails at all. Make sure you respect the rules of the tracks. If the alarm starts or you see the gates coming down, don't try to beat the odds and rush across at the last minute. Even if you don't see any sign of a train coming, approach the crossing as if the train were present. Don't drive distracted, especially around the crossing. Be cautious, slow, and respectful. Stay outside the marked "stop" line and give it a decent amount of distance. Remember that driving around or under the gate is illegal--and it could be deadly.
2. Check the Other Side - Even if you respect the gate, other circumstances could get you stuck on the tracks. Always check the other side of the rail to make sure there is enough room. If there's a traffic jam or another car has stopped for whatever reason, you could find yourself trapped on the tracks, unable to drive to the other side. The average length of a car is 15 feet. Make sure there are at least 15 feet between the track and the car in front of you--any closer to the rail could be unsafe. The average train will extend about 3 feet on either side of the track, although some might be larger. If you can't fit, don't try to rush across the track before the gate comes down. You should be able to cross the rail completely without stopping.
3. Get Out of the Car - Remember that the stopping distance for most trains is pretty far, about the length of 18 football fields. Even if the conductor sees you, the train won't be able to stop in time. So if you find yourself stuck on the tracks, you need to get out of the car immediately. Step out of the car--help anyone who needs assistance getting out--and then get as far away from the train as you possibly can.
4. Run at the Correct Angle - The next step is to run away from the train, but not in the direction you might think. Although your first instinct might be to run in the same direction that the train is headed, experts recommend that you do the exact opposite. If you run in the direction of the train, you might be injured or killed by debris when the train hits the car. To stay safe from the collateral damage of the collision, you should actually run in the direction the train is traveling. Don't run parallel to the tracks, but instead run in the direction the train is coming at a 45-degree angle. It seems counter-intuitive, but it will keep you from getting hit by the train and help you avoid the flying debris.
5. Leave Everything Behind - It might be tempting to stay in your car and try to get it off the tracks. It's not easy to leave your car behind knowing that it will get crushed, but if the train is approaching, the only way for you to survive is to get out of the vehicle. Don't waste time scrambling for your phone or other personal items. Your car and other belongings can be replaced--but your life is more valuable. Focus on getting you and others in the vehicle out of the car and running away as quickly as possible.
The Bottom Line
As past crashes have shown, vehicle-train collisions can be devastating. For the driver or passengers in the vehicle, they're likely to be deadly. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to know what to do next. Without the right escape plan, you could find yourself facing much more than just a damaged car.
In the event that you sustain an injury after getting stuck in a car on train tracks, you need to take action. There's a chance you can hold somebody accountable, whether it's the train company, track owner, train manufacturer, or another vehicle driver.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and talk to a lawyer--so you can take the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve.