How to Stop a Train with your Cell Phone

Your first instinct when you or someone else is stranded on railroad tracks and in danger of being hit by a train is to call 911. What most people don’t know is, it’s quicker to call the railroad. At nearly every railroad crossing, a blue-and-white emergency notification sign is posted containing a unique “address” — 6 digits and a letter — along with an 800 number for the railroad. This information gives dispatchers the exact location so they can radio the engineers to immediately stop short of that crossing. These landline phones don't accept text messages, so you must call. Why call the railroad instead of 911? The standard procedure for 911 is to radio an officer to inspect the scene. The officer confirms the problem and location and then radios the police dispatcher to call the railroad to report the problem. This process takes valuable time that stranded motorists may not have. Calling the railroad directly prompts immediate action that can be done in a fraction of the time it would take going through 911.