Crossing fatalities rising

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2003

There was a slight rise in the number of injuries and fatalities occurring at railroad crossings last year in Alabama, most of which involved careless mistakes made by inattentive car drivers.

Now some new preliminary statics show a nationwide decline in railway accidents is beginning to emerge, a trend that members of Operation Lifesaver hope will continue.

Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit awareness program for railroad crossing safety.

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Bender says the most important tip people need to remember is to always look both ways before crossing railroad tracks.

Bender said the majority of collisions occur within 25 miles of the driver’s home, at a crossing they are probably familiar with.

Also, statistics have shown that 64 percent of train accidents occur in daylight hours with most trains traveling under 30 miles per hour.

Bender said there have been more trespassing fatalities, people walking or riding bikes across the tracks, than car accidents in Alabama.

This past week the NorfolkSouthern Railway Corporation Safety Committee held one of their many events to remind some Selma residents about the dangers of not paying attention at railroad crossings.

Six men who make up the committee-David Bone, Berry Reed, Rodney Houser, Donny Stough, Gene Frith, Edward Kidd-spent one early morning at a crossing on River Road, near International Paper, telling drivers to slow down as they approached the tracks and handing out brochures titled &uot;Can You Make the Grade?&uot;

Failing to stop a railway crossings can not only risk a person’s life, it could also cause legal trouble. It’s against the law to drive around the bright orange crossing gates when their down.

The NorfolkSouthern safety committee usually holds around three to four safety reminders a year in Selma. The best way to avoid train accidents, Bender says, is to just be aware.