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Motorists may find themselves stopped at highway-rail crossings throughout the spring and summer, but not necessarily because of a passing train.
Instead, personnel from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Operation Lifesaver, locallaw enforcement agencies, and railroads will be there to educate the publicabout rail safety.
Officials will be at various crossings passing out safety tips to help motorists make safe decisions at railroad crossings and around railroad tracks and properties. The safety events will kick off April 14, in conjunction with Rail Safety Week in Missouri (April 14-18), and will continue throughout the summer.
“With more than 6,400 miles of railroad track, 3,800 public crossings, and 3,000 private crossings, rail safety is an important issue in Missouri,” said Rod Massman, MoDOTs administrator of railroads. “We are stepping up our efforts to educate motorists about rail safety to reduce injuries and save lives.”
Between 2006 and 2007, the number of highway-public rail crossing collisions decreased from 58 to 47, however fatalities increased from six to seven in Missouri. There was a decrease in the number of people injured or killed while walking on railroad tracks or other unauthorized areas of railroad property. There were four fatal trespassing injuries in 2007, compared to 11 in 2006.
“We are pleased to see the number of collisions at rail grade crossings continues to decrease and we would like to see the number of fatalities at rail grade crossings decrease to zero,” stated Colonel James F. Keathley. “In the Patrol’s effort to reduce crashes and save lives, troopers will be participating in the positive enforcement program as well as enforcing those traffic laws dealing with rail grade crossings throughout the year.”
More than half of the highway-public rail collisions were at crossings with at least some combination of active warning devices. Eighty-six percent (or six of the seven) fatalities occurred at crossings with active warning devices.
“If you think you can beat a train, think again,” said Rick Mooney, executive director of Missouri Operation Lifesaver. “When you approach a railroad crossing, slow down, be prepared to stop and remember to Look, Listen, and Live.”
While passing out safety tips, staff will also reward drivers who
are buckled up in their safety belts with a coupon for a free Cherry
Limeade from Sonic Drive-Ins.