Here Are Some Rules And Regulations About Railroad Crossings In WA State

It might surprise you but I once heard of a radio station employee outrunning a railroad crossing arm right here in the Tri-Cities. Several calls came into the radio station with some frustrated onlookers!

Jennifer Dodge
Jennifer Dodge

Can I Outrun The Railroad Crossing Arm In Washington State Without A Fine?

So it got me thinking, is it legal to run a railroad crossing arm and what are the rules and regulations when it comes to railroad crossings in Washington State?

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The first thing to understand is that you should never try to outrun the railroad arm.

Doing so is not only illegal, but it's also incredibly dangerous. The railroad arm is designed to lower when a train is approaching, and it's a clear indication that you should stop. Trying to speed up to get past the arm is not only hazardous, but it may also be deadly.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the railroad arm can come down in just 20 seconds, which is not a lot of time to react.

So, what are the rules for railroad crossings in Washington State?

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, all drivers are required to stop and remain stopped whenever a railroad signal indicates that a train is approaching.

This includes not only the crossing arms but also flashing lights, bells, or any combination of these.

If you see any of these signals, you are required to stop at least 15 feet from the nearest rail and remain stopped until the train has passed and the signals have stopped.

Railroad Crossing Arm
Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's important to note that if a train is approaching, the railroad arm will usually come down before the train arrives.

This is to prevent any vehicles or pedestrians from entering the crossing. However, this also means that you should never cross the tracks once the arm has come down, even if the train has not yet arrived.

Once the arm is down, it's a clear indication that a train is coming, and you should wait until it has passed before proceeding.

One thing to keep in mind is that some railroad crossings in Washington State do not have any signals. In these cases, you are still required to stop and check for trains before crossing the tracks.

railroad tracks fading into the distance

Additionally, you should always look both ways to make sure no trains are coming before crossing any railroad tracks, even if there are no signals present.

Finally, it's worth noting that violating any of the rules for railroad crossings in Washington State can result in a ticket and a fine.

So now you see why our co-worker got a ton of calls when he pulled that stunt and tried to beat a railroad crossing arm.

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