• Look for the advance warning sign, a yellow circle marked by an “R X R,” to allow time for a gradual stop. Motorists traveling behind the bus may not be aware of the stopping requirement.
• At multiple-track crossings, the number of tracks is indicated below the railroad crossbuck sign. Stay alert after the last car of a train has passed. It could be blocking the view of a train approaching on another set of tracks. Wait for an unobstructed view in both directions before crossing.
• Buses aren’t the only vehicles that stop. Federal regulations and the laws of most states require trucks carrying hazardous materials (noted by placards on the vehicle) to stop at all highway-rail grade crossings. Be prepared to stop behind them.
• Before crossing tracks, make sure there will be enough space for the bus on the other side in case a sudden stop becomes necessary.
• To avoid stalling and getting stuck on the tracks, never change gears while crossing a highway-rail intersection. Use the highest gear which will allow you to cross.
• If the bus does stall on the crossing, immediately evacuate and get everyone to a safe distance from the tracks. Check signposts or signal housing for emergency notification information and call 911. Give the Department of Transportation number if it is posted as well as the location of the crossing.
• A loaded freight train moving at 55 mph takes at least a mile to stop after fully applying its brakes. Light rail trains need about 600 feet, and an eight-car passenger train needs about a mile to stop when traveling at 80 mph.
• Don’t try to judge a train’s speed or distance, especially at night. An optical illusion may make it appear to be farther away and traveling more slowly than it really is.
Source: Operation Lifesaver. To schedule a free highway-rail safety presentation, contact the Operation Lifesaver Coordinator in your state. Certified presenters are available to speak to school classrooms, scout groups and community service groups. For more information, visit www.oli.org/oli.
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