Motorists too young to remember the era when railroads were a linchpin of this nation's transportation system sometimes minimize the danger a moving train can represent. An average freight train weighs about 5,000 tons and cannot swerve or stop quickly. The best way to stay safe around trains is to stay well out of their way.

That means not taking needless chances around trains and train tracks. Stay behind lowered gates. Don't walk, run, play or bungee jump near tracks and bridges. Never race a train crossing. If your car or truck stalls on a crossing, get out of the vehicle immediately and call police. Finally, remember to watch for a second train when crossing multiple tracks.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, in 1992, 575 people were killed in 4,900 vehicle-train collisions, and another 533 were killed while trespassing on railroad tracks and property. Following the simple precautions listed above can prevent such tragedies.