STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — The deadly Metro-North crash Tuesday night highlights the dangers of railroad crossings and the need for commuters to know more about railroad safety procedures.

When it comes to riding the train, Jim Cameron, of the Commuter Action Group, said the best thing travelers can do is read and memorize the steps for opening emergency exits.

“Take a look around that car and notice where the emergency exits are,” Cameron told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “There’s signage in all those cars. Know how you open a window if there’s a problem. There are instructions that tell people how to do that.”

Because the bulletproof panes are so thick, it will be easier for a passenger to remove windows from inside the car than for rescue crews outside, Cameron said.

While every crash is different, rail experts say historically parts of the train have proven safer than others, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

“Sit in the aisle seat rather than the window seat and sit toward the middle of the car instead of the end of the car,” said Ross Capon, Independent Rail Safety consultant.

Six people, including five train passengers, were killed Tuesday when a crowded Metro-North train slammed into an SUV on the tracks in Valhalla, New York, and burst into flames, authorities said.

Street level railroad crossings are a hazard drivers face daily. There are 294 grade crossings on Long Island and 126 on Metro-North.

While its still unclear why the driver of the SUV stopped on the tracks, with 250 grade crossing deaths a year around the country, there is little doubt that impatience kills, Gusoff reported.

It’s why AAA advises motorists if your car stalls or gets stuck on tracks, abandon it.

“Really you should run in the direction that the train is coming from because if you run in the opposite direction, the train is going to hit the car and propel that car toward you,” AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said.

AAA advises that drivers approaching a grade crossing should slow down, stop, watch and listen. And if you’re in slow traffic, wait until you are certain you can make it across before moving over the tracks.


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