Archived Story

MnDOT: Stay safe near tracks when riding on snowmobiles

Published 10:24am Friday, February 1, 2013

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is advising snowmobilers and motorists to use caution and observe the law when near or crossing railroad tracks.

There were 12 fatalities of pedestrians trespassing on railroad property and four fatalities at railroad crossings in 2012 in the state, according to preliminary statistics.

“A freight train moving at 50 mph may need more than a mile to stop,” said Bill Gardner, MnDOT’s freight, rail and waterways director, in a news release. “Once train engineers see vehicle or pedestrian in a crossing or on the tracks, they can apply the emergency brakes; however, it’s often too late for them to stop in time.”

MnDOT officials stated most collisions with trains are preventable. People are encouraged to pay attention and have patience.

The news release followed an incident in December, in which a snowmobile got stuck on railroad tracks in another part of the state. The owner left to get help, and while he was gone the snowmobile was struck by a freight train.

Train crashes have also been reported in Freeborn County.

In December, a man was injured after his truck reportedly collided with a Union Pacific Railroad train north of Clarks Grove. He sustained serious injuries but has since improved.

MnDOT encouraged the following safety tips:

• Stop when crossing gates are down or lights are flashing.

• Wait for the crossing gates to rise and lights to stop flashing before proceeding through an intersection.

• Get out of the vehicle or snowmobile immediately if it stalls while on the tracks. Then call 911.

• Remember that trains operate any time of the day.

Snowmobilers should cross only at designated crossing areas and remember that riding on railroad property is illegal, the news release states. Motorists should keep the vehicle behind the white lines when stopping at or near tracks.