I see it happen pretty frequently. A train stops just shy of the crossing or only partially in it and, eventually, impatient drivers start going around it.

Sometimes the crossing is completely blocked by stopped or stalled trains and you can't proceed anyway.

Sometimes, there is room to go around but can you?

In Texas, the answer is no. You cannot ever go around a stopped train unless directed to do so by officials. Even then it's still illegal but allowable under proper direction.

I've seen trains operating on the spur between Railroad and Dyer in far Northeast El Paso that sometimes leave just enough room at the crossing for cars to cross.

Though they do often move back and forth a bit so, technically, they aren't even really stopped.  Either way, you can't, legally, proceed.

Six Killed As Express Train Collides With Car On Level Crossing
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According to TXDoT:

  1. Texas law requires drivers to yield the right of way to trains.
  2. It is against the law to cross tracks if a train is visible or to drive around gates that have been lowered at a railroad crossing.
  3. If the crossing arms are lowered and no train is coming, the road is closed.

Look at #2 again ... if a train is even visible, you have to stop.

If you ever find yourself stalled on the tracks, and can't move your car at all, get out of it and call 911 from a safe distance away.

Emergency Telephone Numbers Keep Railroad Crossings Safe
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You should also notify the railroad. Somewhere near the crossing, you will find the railroads name and an emergency phone number on a (usually) blue and white sign.

See some examples here or, you can keep this list of emergency numbers handy. For more railroad crossing safety tips from TXDoT, click here.

Remember, trains can take over a mile to stop.

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