PINE BELT (WDAM) - Norfolk Southern authorities were in the area to help bring awareness and education about crossing railroad tracks. Officers from the Hattiesburg and Laurel Police Departments were also on hand to inform and warn residents about the dangers of crossing railroad tracks.
Walking on railroad tracks or using them for a shortcut is trespassing and the only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at a designated railroad crossing.
Railroad tracks, bridges, tunnels and equipment are private property and trespassing on them can result in arrest or a fine.
Gary Hedgepath, who works as a police officer and as an inspector for Norfolk Southern, said that often, electronic devices are becoming a distraction for people attempting to use the railroad tracks as a shortcut.
"The iPhone with the music cranked up, they may have a train right on top of them, and I know it seems hard to believe but a train can be laying on the horn or whistle and if they're not looking right at it, they may not hear it until it's too late," Hedgepath said. "What we're trying to do is make people aware that even though you grew up around these train tracks or are around them all the time, don't' take them for granted, it involves a piece of machinery that can't stop on a dime."
A typical train carrying around a hundred cars can take up to a mile to stop, even with the emergency brake applied.
Approximately 900 people are injured or killed in the U.S. each year while walking on railroad tracks. Norfolk Southern Corporation operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers.