5 Rail Crossing Tips for Haulage Drivers

Railway crossings are a dangerous area for any driver, but even more of a concern when you're manoeuvring a heavy haulage rig. Australia is a vast country filled with all sorts of rail crossings, both in and out of built-up areas, and heavy haulage drivers have to contend with most of them. In particular, truckies spend a lot of time driving though remote areas where mines and sites are located, and there can be many crossings you'll have to face in just one journey.

Considering that there are more than 1,000 near hits on Australian railway lines every year, it makes sense to be vigilant and ensure you're in the know about truck railway safety. To make sure you're prepared, we've come up with some essential tips to ensure you're informed about haulage safety when dealing with trains.

Truck railway safety tips:

Tip#1 Keep clear and be patient

The number one haulage safety rule is always keep train tracks clear. You might think you can squeeze through before the train arrives, but considering a fully loaded freight train can take up to 2km to fully stop, you don't want to risk it. Such impatience costs lives. 

If you see a train in the distance that is on its way to the crossing, and you think that you may still have time, whatever you do don't try and race it to the crossing! While this is just common sense, you should also remember that trains that appear to be in the distance are often closer and travelling faster than they might seem.

Tip #2 Obey lights and signage

Always pay attention to the lights and gates at crossings. If the red lights are flashing, you shouldn't try to enter a level crossing, and you should wait for these to fully stop before crossing the tracks. Similarly, never drive around a boom gate when it's down, as this almost certainly means that a train is close by and on its way. If the boom gate is in the process of ascending or descending, you should also not attempt to drive under it.

Tip #3 Be prepared to stop

At the same time, there aren't always warning bells and lights on every crossing. For this reason, you should always take extra care when approaching a crossing, and stop, look and listen for any signs of a train. Always expect one to be coming, and don't just rely on a timetable to try and guess if one is due.

Tip#4 Consider stopping distance and short-stacking

Heavy vehicle drivers should remember that trains always have right of way, and that all railway crossings require you to stop. Being alert is particularly important when you encounter unprotected crossings in regional areas. Make sure you're aware of stopping distances, prepare early and ensure you have enough time to pull up.

You should also beware of short-stacking, and with oversized heavy haulage vehicles this should always be centre of mind. Make sure the path is clear before attempting to cross, as you don't want to get stuck halfway!

Tip#5 What to do

If you do find yourself stopped on a crossing and a train is on its way, drive off the track as quickly as possible. If you're unable to do so, get out of your truck and get clear. It's highly unlikely that the train will be able to stop in time.

A safety priority for National Heavy Haulage

Oversize transport is no easy job, yet our drivers and support teams make it look easy. For more tips on haulage safety, like our post on Ways to Prevent Truck Power Line Strikes or Tips for Staying Alert, visit our National Heavy Haulage News page. 

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