HANNIBAL (WGEM) -- Knowing what to do at a railroad crossing could mean the difference between preventing a crash, or being in one.
MoDOT deals with dozens of car-train crashes a year, some of them claiming lives.
That's why this week is set aside as "Rail Safety Week"…to bring awareness to what you should do the next time you're at a crossing.
Hannibal Resident Perry Williamson says he and his grandson often cross train tracks on their bikes.
He says he's never had any close calls crossing railroads, and hopes he never will.
"We want to make sure we cross perpendicular to the tracks, so you're not on an angle, cause your tire could twist, get caught in track…and crash," Williamson explained.
Missouri department of transportation northeast district area engineer, Brian Untiedt, says on average they see 35 railway collisions and five fatalities a year in Missouri.
"And we really need to get that reduced. What that takes is it takes people stopping, looking both ways, and making sure it's clear before they go," Untiedt explained.
He says this is important because in rural areas some crossings go through private driveways, are hidden, or unmarked.
"The first thing we like to let people know is that as they approach a rail crossing, no matter what the conditions are, always assume that a train could be coming," Untiedt said.
He says don't just rely on seeing or hearing the train.
He explains most often people involved in train collisions don't hear a train so they don't think one is coming until it's too late.
Williamson says he always reminds his grandson what to do when they cross railroad tracks.
"Be careful and watch and listen for trains when you get close to the tracks and don't be to close to the tracks when trains come by," he explained.
Untiedt says as far as pedestrians, walking along the railroad or being on the tracks, it's not only dangerous, but it's illegal.
Untiedt says the next time you're at a railroad crossing remember:
- Trains can take more than a mile to stop.
- The only safe place to cross the tracks is at a designated crossing.
- Treat every crossing as if a train is coming.