Stay alert at train crossings
Operation Lifesaver, Inc., and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety remind farm machinery operators to stay alert where field and farmstead access roads cross train tracks. These farm-rail crossings are largely unmarked (no warning lights, bells, gates or signs) and require extra caution on the part of farm machinery operators. OLI and NECAS urge all farmers, ranchers and their employees who must use farm-rail crossings to remember the following information.
Stopping safely at
Stop no closer than 15 feet from the nearest rail. Allow extra distance for front-mounted buckets and chemical tanks on farm tractors.
To better hear the train, open machinery cab windows, turn off radios and fans, and remove head phones.
Make sure that the farm machinery is properly lined up with the farm-rail crossing to ensure safe passage over the train tracks.
While stopped, look carefully in each direction for approaching trains, moving head and eyes to see around obstructions such as mirrors, windshield pillars and passengers.
Winter conditions can create additional hazards: snow can muffle the sound of an approaching train. Make sure that equipment does not slide onto the tracks when snow and ice cover the road.
Before resuming, make sure there is enough room on the other side of the train track or tracks to fully clear without stopping. Don’t stop on the tracks to open or close gates.
Make sure that any towed equipment does not become unhitched while crossing.
Watch wagons and other equipment during the crossing so loaded materials are not dislodged onto the train tracks.
Be aware of special situations
Some farm equipment is uniquely designed for field work and does not transport well across farm-rail crossings.
Do not attempt a crossing with low-slung equipment that can become lodged on “humped” crossings.
When operating new farm machinery over farm-rail crossings for the first time, make sure that heavier and wider equipment can be safely moved over the crossing.
Some farm equipment transports toxic materials, including pesticides and fertilizers.
Take extra care with nurse tanks containing anhydrous ammonia. Hitch pins can become dislodged when moving across rough farm-rail crossings.
Some farm equipment transports extremely heavy commodities, including bulk manure and grain.
Take extra care that farm tractors towing loaded bulk manure tanks will fully clear the crossing quickly and safely.
Take extra care with loaded grain wagons that could tip over if the wheels are not properly lined up with the crossing.
If for any reason you get stuck on the track, get out of the equipment and away from the track.
Check any signposts or signal housings at the crossing for emergency notification information, including a 1-800 emergency notification number.
Look for a U.S. Department of Transportation number, six digits plus a letter, that will help identify the crossing location.
Immediately call the 1-800 emergency notification number, if available. If not, call 911 and provide the 911 dispatcher with the crossing location, the U.S. DOT number, if available, and all identifiable landmarks. Do not hang up the phone unless instructed to do so.
If you frequently use a farm-rail crossing, have the following information handy in case of an emergency: the name and emergency phone number of the railroad, the railroad milepost number, and the U.S. DOT number.
Contact the Operation Lifesaver Coordinator in your state to schedule a free highway-rail safety presentation. Trained volunteers are available to speak in school classrooms, to scouting or 4-H and community service groups, for company safety programs, and to driver education students.
Please also consider joining the volunteers across the U.S. who are trained to deliver Operation Lifesaver’s safety message. For more information on how you can become an Operation Lifesaver Presenter, visit the Operation Lifesaver, Inc. website at www.oli.org.