Safety At Railroad Crossings
by Laura Monteverdi, Reporter
March 15, 2013 9:27 AM
Railroad crossings can be dangerous places and despite the many warnings- the flashing lights, the barricades and the train whistles- some drivers still try to 'beat the train' and risk their lives doing so.
“We see that that five minutes that people have to take out of their life to wait for a train to pass they are willing to risk it by going around the gates which is the wrong thing to do,” said Ed Ford, Yard Operations Manager in Mancato.
That’s why Union Pacific Railroad employees and the Worthington Police Department have come together to create Operation Lifesaver.
The project teaches railroad crossing safety and tries to stop those who violate the law.
“We're trying to educate the public and let them know how dangerous it is going through the crossing," said Ryan Hunsaid, a Conductor for Union Pacific Railroad.
On Thursday, the two departments put the exercise in action, driving the train across highly populated crossings, while police waited on the sidelines to catch those who broke the law.
“We think if were out there on a day-to-day basis writing tickets and issuing citations, hopefully down the road there will be less infractions on behalf of the motorists," said Ford.
Once the gates go down, a vehicle has about 20 seconds before the train arrives, but those flashing lights and barricades don’t stop everybody
“The biggest problem is everybody is in a hurry. As soon as they see the lights they go as fast as they can to try and get around it and beat the train,” said Hunsaid.
In addition to these exercises, Union Pacific Railroad employees also visit schools and businesses in Minnesota and Iowa to teach smart railroad crossing safety habits.
Worthington police issued a combination of 6 citations and warnings on Thursday afternoon, all were for drivers who ignored the crossing while a train was approaching.