IFB urges precaution with loads of grain at railroad crossings

Extra care a good idea when hauling full semi loads during harvest season.

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Illinois Farm Bureau Assistant Transportation Director Kirby Wagner points out construction projects on railroad crossings and other roads could have occurred since the last time you drove your semi there last spring or fall, which could change the way you should approach these areas. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Kay Shipman

Moving loads of grain poses challenges this time of year. A route over train tracks adds another dimension that requires consideration, especially for seasonal employees who may not be familiar with crossing conditions.  

Kirby Wagner, Illinois Farm Bureau assistant transportation director, pointed out a railroad crossing pitch may produce problems for drivers.

A loaded trailer can bottom out on the rails. “Sometimes, it is hard to know just how weight will affect clearance,” Wagner said. 

In addition, a driver’s sight line may not allow him or her to judge whether room exists for the truck or combination of truck, trailer and/or wagon to safely clear the tracks. “Make sure you’ve got enough room to cross with a trailer,” Wagner said. “Is there a car on the other side of the track you can’t see?”

Wagner also noted many construction projects, including some involving railroad crossing approaches, have occurred around the state. “Those approaches may not be the same as they were in the spring or last harvest,” he added.

Related: Illinois truck owners, UCR registration period opens Nov. 1 this year. Click here.

The Federal Railroad Administration warns drivers approaching a crossing to never ignore flashing lights, whistles, closing gates or stop signs. The agency encourages turning off fans and radios and listening for train whistles. Listening is especially critical at rural crossings that lack gates and signal lights.

Don’t enter a crossing unless you have enough space to fully clear the tracks. An average train requires more than a mile to stop. If a gate comes down after you’ve started crossing, keep driving even if it means breaking a gate, which are designed to break.

If the vehicle gets stuck on the tracks, move away in the direction of the train if one is coming. Immediately call 911 or the posted 800 number to report a stalled vehicle and ensure the railroad is contacted.

Provide the crossing’s exact location using the DOT/AAR crossing inventory number. The number consists of six digits followed by a letter and is posted on a metal plate at each crossing. The number may be posted on the crossbuck post or signal pole, box or bungalow. In addition to reporting the number, include the name of the road or highway that crosses the tracks.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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