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International data indicates that heavy trucks are involved in about 15% of fatal rail crossing crashes. There are important safety tips for our heavy truck drivers about general awareness of their vehicles and the procedure to approach and cross the level crossings.

Know your Truck and Be Aware of:

Know the length of your vehicle and load overhang in relation to space available to safely clear a crossing on the other side.

The length of your truck and trailer. It important for getting through the crossing – do not block the adjacent streets if you are going to wait for a train to cross.

The time it takes for you to bring your truck and trailers to a stop if you need to and the time it will take to clear the crossing with the truck and the trailer.

Check if the height of the truck is clear from the height gauge. If it is not clear do not proceed across a level crossing. This is to avoid touching the high voltage electrical overhead wires.

Be aware of the load on your truck -Trucks carrying heavy loads may take more time to clear the tracks than you anticipated.

Approaching and Crossing level Crossings:

Remember that trains always have the right of way – Use your experience to protect yourself at railway crossings.

Some crossings have warning lights and some with boom gates. Others have a stop or yield sign.

Prepare early; make sure you give your truck enough time to pull up.

Be extra vigilant at night as judging the speed and distance of the train can be extremely difficult.

Test the brakes and note the traffic behind.

To hear the sounds of trains and their warning whistles better, roll down the window; turn off audio equipment and fans. Also, ensure that passengers keep quiet and assist in looking out for trains.

Obey the signage instructions provided at the level crossing.

Look out for short-stacking – This is when your truck hangs over the crossing because there is not enough space ahead – Make sure your path is clear before you start to cross. You don’t want to realise you are stuck halfway.

Be familiar with railway crossings on your route – Avoid crossings where low-slung units can get stuck on raised crossings.

Use emergency brakes and flashers whilst waiting at the level crossing.

Vehicles with dangerous goods are instructed to stop at all level crossings even if it has a yield sign only.

Check for problems with visibility – Some conditions make it harder to check for trains at crossings. In summer when the vegetation has grown it is more difficult to observe trains than in winter. During rain, there are no windscreen wipers on the side windows turn them slightly down and observe better. You and your co-driver.

Don’t gamble at s-bend roads, in glare or when roadside objects obscure your view. Slow down and make sure you are safe to cross.

If the sun is rising or setting over the railway line it will be difficult to see trains. Make double sure.

Use a gear which will let you cross the tracks without shifting.

If you have to open and close gates, do not park on the railway line to open the second gate.

Check the flashing lights (if installed) one final time before proceeding.

If the level crossing lights begin to flash after starting the truck, keep going, it is safer to continue forward than to reverse.

Do not attempt to cross the tracks unless you can see far enough down the track to ensure that no trains are approaching.

If you see a train approaching, you must stop – Never make the judgement call of your speed and the distance/speed of the train.

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