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In-Service Safety Series
In-Service Safety Series
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I. School Buses and Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

  1. We are going to talk today about school buses and highway-rail grade crossing safety
  2. What we will be talking about applies EVERYWHERE
    1. In every county, city, state, country
    2. At every highway-rail intersection
  3. One thing needs to be clear from the start
  4. In a confrontation between a school bus and a train, who wins?

    (The train ALWAYS wins.)

  5. A school bus is a safe vehicle for traveling
  6. But it is no match for a train
  7. How many people have highway-rail intersections on their routes?
  8. Do these crossings have gates and lights or not?
  9. Whether or not you regularly encounter a highway-rail grade crossing, you need to know how to proceed safely at one
  10. Let me ask you some questions
  11. Who has the right of way at a grade crossing the school bus or the train?

    (Correct answer: The train)

  12. How far away from the tracks should you stop?

    (Correct answer: At least 15 feet but no more than 50 feet.)

  13. What does this sign mean?

    (Correct answer: The crossbuck warns that there is a grade crossing just ahead. It means the same as a yield sign.)

  14. How long does it take a loaded train of 100 cars going 55 mph to stop?

    (Correct answer: 1-1 1/2 miles. The length of 18-25 football fields.)

  15. If your bus stalls on the tracks, what should you do?

    (Correct answer: Evacuate the bus immediately and move everyone off the tracks and away from the bus.)

  16. If the gates start to come down as you start to cross the tracks, what should you do?

    (Correct answer: Keep going. The gates will break away.)

  17. Clearly, there are some important things to know about school buses and trains and how to pass through a highway-rail grade crossing safely
  18. Let's watch a videotape that will help us better understand the situation

I. - Distribute agenda

I.G - Get show of hands

I.H - Get general feedback

I.M - Display Slide #1

I.R - Show videotape


I. You may want to distribute the agenda as participants enter the training area.

I. Operation Lifesaver is a nationwide, nonprofit public information and education organization dedicated to eliminating collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings, as well as discouraging trespassing on railroad rights-of-way*. Operation Lifesaver has programs in 49 states and these programs provide educational presentations upon request.

For a comprehensive presentation of highway rail safety, call (800) 537-6224 to arrange a certified Operation Lifesaver presenter. However, this module can be substituted for an Operation Lifesaver presentation, if you an unable to arrange one.

*Railroad rights-of-way include all tracks and their adjoining property, as well as bridges, tunnels, trestles, and train yards.

I.D. Ask the group the question. For your benefit, the correct answer is provided in italics. This format will be used throughout the module.

I.R. Choose one of the videotapes to show. Each one runs for 18 minutes.

Note: REVIEW THE VIDEOTAPE BEFORE CLASS. Pick out the safety concerns that you want to highlight. The Responsibility Is Ours (from Operation Lifesaver) brings together school bus drivers Bette Norris and David Lines and locomotive engineer John Underwood. John takes a ride with Bette on her empty school bus to learn how school bus drivers make a highway-rail crossing safely. Both Bette and David ride in the cab of the locomotive with John to see what engineers experience every day. The videotape uses actual and simulated footage including the train-school bus crash at Fox River Grove, Illinois. It reviews highway-rail signage and the proper procedure for making a highway-rail grade crossing. The bottom line is: All train-school bus crashes are preventible. Always expect a train.

Preventing Disaster at the Crossing (produced by the Idaho Department of Law Enforcement and the Union Pacific Railroad) features railroad engineer Dale Wheeler as he talks about the dangers of a school bus-train crash. Personal interviews with survivors (and footage of actual and reenacted crashes) highlight the trauma of a school bus-train crash. The videotape shows the types of railroad warning signs, evacuation procedures, and the process for crossing a highway-rail intersection safely.

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