Railroad crossings can pose a danger on farms
Farming can be a dangerous job, but there’s one hazard farmers may not have on their radar: railroad crossings.
Many farmers live near rural railroad crossings or have railroad tracks on their property, which can pose a risk for train collisions. According to Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a national rail safety education organization, approximately 15% of all rail collisions each year occur on private crossings such as those on farmland.
“Anytime you’re crossing a railroad, there’s always a chance of something happening,” said Andrew Smith, associate director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Farmers usually have to go slower to make sure their equipment isn’t dragging or likely to get caught on rail lines, or if they’re going up an incline or over bumps. The safety concerns are there.”
In May an Augusta County farmer using a railroad bridge to cross a stream while repairing fences was fatally struck by a train.
Risk can increase with rural, private railroad crossings because some areas lack the gates or lights that signal an oncoming train. In addition, farm machinery is loud and farmers can’t count on hearing a train in time. Having visual contact with rail lines and looking both ways before crossing is critical.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and Operation Lifesaver recently teamed up to remind farmers about the dangers associated with rail lines. Operation Lifesaver published the following safety tips:
- Slow down as you approach a railroad crossing.
- Stop no closer than 15 feet from the crossing.
- Look and listen for a train. Open cab windows, turn off radios and fans and remove headphones. Rock back and forth in your seat to see around obstacles.
- Look both ways again before crossing.
- Once you start across, do not hesitate. Do not change gears.
“We can’t take a crossing for granted, and we can’t compete with a train,” Smith said.
For more information visit https://oli.org/.