Horse Trailer Railroad Crossing Safety Brochure Available

The average freight train traveling at 55 mph takes a mile or more to stop--that's about the length of 18 football fields. So when a vehicle gets stuck on the tracks and a train is coming, the outcome is usually very bad for the vehicle, and often worse for its passengers.

In light of the hazards associated with railroad crossings and trains, Operation Lifesaver Inc and USRider have teamed up to develop an informative brochure with tips for safely approaching and crossing railroad tracks. The "Railroad Crossing Tips for Equestrians" brochure is available for download on both the Operation Lifesaver Inc Web site, and the USRider Web site.  (Download it now.)

The initiative stems from an accident study that USRider conducted with Tomas Gimenez, Dr.Med.Vet., professor of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Clemson University, and Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, an animal physiologist and a primary instructor in technical large-animal emergency rescue. These two authorities in large-animal emergency rescue have been assisting USRider in gathering and analyzing data about horse trailer accidents. The data has been used to formulate recommendations for preventing accidents and enhancing the safety of horses.

In a review of more than 400 horse trailer accidents, the accidents involving trains had a very high likelihood of a human or equine fatality.

The "Railroad Crossing Tips for Equestrians" brochure includes safety tips, both obvious and little known.

For example, never assume that a track is no longer in use. Rather, always expect a train. Trains can run on any track, at any time, in either direction.

Also, it is very difficult to judge a train's speed and proximity, therefore it might be closer and traveling faster than it appears. Additionally, it might take longer for your truck and trailer to clear the tracks than you think.

USRider reminds horse owners that if they must cross railroad tracks, they should proceed cautiously, especially when the tracks are higher than the road grade. If your horse trailer becomes lodged on a railroad crossing, call the emergency notification number posted on or near the crossing, or call 911 or local law enforcement. Look for a US DOT number (six digits plus a letter) to identify the crossing.

Additionally, all humans and animals should be evacuated from the tow vehicle and trailer. Evacuating the horses from the trailer serves two purposes. Obviously, it removes them from harm's way. In addition, evacuating the horses will reduce the weight in the trailer, which could raise the trailer enough to dislodge it from the tracks and enable it to complete the crossing safely.

Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit, international continuing public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks, and on railroad rights-of-way. For more information, visit  

USRider is a nationwide roadside assistance plan created especially for equestrians. It includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals, and more. For more information, visit  

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