March 21, 2023 - Railroad crossings are a common part of Louisiana’s roads, but drivers who don’t pay attention around tracks are putting themselves and others in danger.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is reminding everyone that trains always have the right of way, and drivers should always be cautious when approaching a railroad track.
“You can’t rely on just listening for a train because today’s trains are a lot quieter,” LHSC Executive Director Lisa Freeman said. “Drivers should slow down and visually check both ways before crossing the railroad tracks.”

Louisiana has nearly 3,000 miles of railroad tracks and approximately 5,600 public and private at-grade road crossings. From 2018 through 2022, there were 440 crashes between trains and vehicles in Louisiana, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Those crashes killed 22 people, the statistics show.

In many crashes, vehicles are hit as drivers try to beat an oncoming train. Freeman stated that vehicles must always yield to an oncoming train and never run through flashing red lights at a railroad crossing.

“Trains are moving much faster than you think, and a big freight train can take up to one mile to come to a stop,” Freeman said. “You can’t beat a train, and in the case of ‘a tie,’ the train always ‘wins.’”

Here are more tips on staying safe in your car around trains:

·      Do not assume a train is coming at the same time or from the same direction every day. 
·      Don’t drive over a railroad crossing unless you are certain there is enough room for your vehicle to clear the crossing. Trains can extend up to three feet beyond the rails.
·      If you are stopped at multiple sets of tracks and the passing train has cleared, check to ensure another train is not coming from the opposite direction.

Operation Lifesaver is a national non-profit safety organization that educates people about train safety and has produced a video about how to drive near trains. The Louisiana chapter of OL provides speakers to give free presentations to any group that is interested in learning more.

“We will come give a presentation to anyone in Louisiana, from elementary schools to senior citizen centers,” Jennifer Grigsby, executive director of the Louisiana OL chapter, said.

Any group interested in getting an OL volunteer to talk to their group can contact Grigsby at, or by calling 225-921-8381.