Rail Safety Week pulls into the Pine Belt Monday

Rail safety to be heightened this week.
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Federal statistics show that every three hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.

That’s not acceptable for at least one non-profit group that is determined to bring the numbers of collisions down.

“According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were over 600 pedestrian fatalities last year and over 200 vehicle-train collisions,” said Kimbler Sloan, executive director of Mississippi Operation Lifesaver. “And (those numbers) are nationwide and would be if it happened at a crossing.

“Here in Mississippi in 2021, we actually had six trespasser fatalities and two gate-crossing fatalities in our state.”

National Rail Safety Week starts Monday and though visual and auditory signals for trains seem ample, accidents still occur at too high a rate.

A big issue in Mississippi, according to Sloan, are trespassers.

Trespassers are considered anyone who walks on or alongside the tracks.

Those actions lead to many of the accidents across the nation.

“Most people don’t realize that whenever you’re on the railroad tracks or you are walking along them that you’re trespassing and it is illegal and dangerous,” said Sloan.

Misconceptions about trains are rife.

Many people think they will hear or feel a train coming, or that they can outrun a train.

Nope. Not the case..

“They don’t realize that the train is traveling at a high rate of speed, and they think they may have time to beat the train,” Sloan said. “You can never beat the train.”

With Rail Safety Week running from Sept. 19 through Sept. 25, Operation Lifesaver will be teaching safety tips across the nation.

“We’re just really trying to stop track tragedies,” said Sloan. “We want to bring down any fatalities down to zero fatalities by spreading our safety message.”

Each railroad crossing has a blue notification card with a phone number that can be used in case of an emergency.

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