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Last Modified: March 1, 2023

TRAX is More Dangerous Than You Realize

Published on May 14, 2015 • Last updated March 1, 2023 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Being Safe in Utah (General Safety), Bicycle Accidents, Bicycle Safety, Pedestrian Accidents, Train Accidents

Red line TRAX train at daybreak
Red line TRAX train at daybreak
by VXLA via Flickr

The average car (empty) weighs 1.75 tons and the average person weighs 178 pounds (on an empty stomach). By contrast, the TRAX light rail weighs about 27 times more than your car and 542 times more than you.

But what do those numbers really mean? Whether you are with or without your car, TRAX will win every time.  Thanks to online computing software and a little reasoning, we can make these numbers a little more understandable. Moving at 25 MPH that train will apply almost 500 kilonewtons (kN) of force–that’s five times the amount of force as a 60 MPH car crash.

Don’t Let Safety Become White Noise

Impromptu physics lesson aside, these numbers mean business. TRAX is a great way to get around, but it can be very dangerous if you aren’t being alert and safe. So much is said about safety with cars, roadways, crosswalks, and public transit that much of it becomes white noise. You may remember that there was something mentioned on the radio while you were driving yesterday, or maybe you saw a banner on a TRAX platform. But it’s hard to remember what was said exactly.

Safety and accident statistics are so commonplace now, they just aren’t grabbing our attention anymore. We wanted to take a moment and have you stop and think about some of those numbers.  Can you imagine getting in an accident with five times the amount of force as a 60 mile per hour car crash?  Can you imagine what it would be like if the train was moving double that speed?

Summer is almost here and more and more people will be walking around and enjoying the weather. It’s nice to spend time outside, and we’re lucky to have such a great public transit system that allows us to go places we need or want to visit.  But we need to keep in mind that TRAX safety is more important than we realize.

Keep These Safety Tips in Mind

To help raise awareness, we are repeating a few safety tips UTA has posted concerning their trains, platforms and crossings:

Red flashing lights control the rail crossings. Never cross the tracks while the arms are moving or red lights are flashing.

I know we’re often in a hurry. We get frustrated and don’t want to waste precious time idling at a train crossing. But, whenever you might be tempted to floor your gas pedal or dash across the street to beat the train, remember that a few minutes of patience now can help guarantee you’ll have many more minutes left in your future.

Remember it only takes a second to be safe!

1. Always watch for trains—look both ways before crossing the tracks.

2. Avoid dangerous distractions—take off head phones, don’t text or talk on the phone while crossing the tracks.

3. Don’t bike or skate board on a train platform.

4. Stand behind the yellow line when trains are approaching the platform.

5. Hold hands with smaller children.

6. Never cross between train cars or through the trackway—always use designated safe crossings.

For motorists:

1. Never go around a lowered gate or try to outrun a train. Just wait for the train to pass, the gates to lift, and lights to stop before crossing the track.

2. Obey all traffic signals and signs. Many accidents occur when motorists run a red light or make an improper left turn in front of a train.

Get the Help You Need

UTA also partners with Operation Lifesaver in giving rail safety presentations to elementary, junior high, and high school classes and other organizations. If you would like to request a safety presentation, click here.

You can find more by going to the UTA website, or by visiting UTA’s YouTube channel.

Fortunately, accidental deaths in Utah have been decreasing.  But there’s a huge potential for accidents around our transit system.  Pedestrians can be especially vulnerable, protected only by the laws and safety guidelines in place.  If you walk in front of a moving train, there’s no way it will be able to stop in time.  The only way to keep yourself safe is to obey all the rules and pay attention.

Of course accidents aren’t always our fault.  As lawyers, we understand your rights and know that sometimes you need help protecting them. If you’ve been injured in a public transit accident, or any accident for that matter, give us a call at (801)506-0800. It’s our job to help you understand the law concerning your case, and we can help you get the best results.

Photo copyright to vxla

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