Two drivers bail from cars stalled on Metra tracks

Dan Smith

Elmwood Park, Illinois (CBS) -- It's a nightmare. A car stalls at a railroad crossing and the driver is forced to drive for safety in the bitter cold. Thursday night it happened not once but twice. It is believed to be due to the extreme cold. On Friday, her CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey delved into what went wrong and what drivers should do if it happens to them. Two Chicago-area drivers had to flee their vehicle after being stranded in a Metra truck Thursday night as temperatures plummeted from minus 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. One was on Grand Avenue in Elmwood Park on the Milwaukee West Line. Another was at Crystal Lake on Pingree Road on the Union Pacific Northwest Line. Fortunately, in both cases the train stopped in time. "The most important thing people need to understand is that if you get stuck at a railroad crossing, get out of your car immediately," said Meg Thomas Riele. Thomas-Reile explained that extreme cold is dangerous, but dangerous. Drivers must absolutely get out of their vehicles. "Don't try to speed across because you could hit a piece of ice and get out of position and get stuck," she said. ." According to Thomas-Reile, when you get out of your car, each intersection has a blue and white sign and the phone number is (800) 716-9132. The number tells the railroad where you are and leads directly to the dispatch center for the train line. The dispatcher can then stop the train. "Then don't go back to the car," said Thomas Riele. Thomas-Reile suggests walking in the opposite direction of the train. She also warns that Arctic temperatures and high winds can cause gates to malfunction. "But look at the lights. They're working. When those lights start flashing, don't go through the tracks and hit the gates," said Thomas-Reile. "Don't do it. Please stop the car." Metra said two late-night Milwaukee West trains and three UP Northwest trains were delayed as a result of the stop last night. Fortunately, however, they were able to stop the train traffic and allow the driver to escape safely. Metra also asks drivers to be extra careful when crossing tracks at night when visibility may be poor.