Commentary: Avoiding trains is simple

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

By Lisa Moon | Special to the Advertiser

Stop! Believe it or not, that is all you have to do to avoid an accident with a train.

So, why are there so many vehicle vs. train accidents? Nancy Hudson of Operation Lifesaver would like to know the answer to that question. Recently, Nancy presented a 35-minute safety course for the city of Thorsby. The program taught those lucky enough to receive a citation during a train safety blitz how to be safe around trains.

Participants learned a train can weigh upwards of 12 million pounds while their vehicle weighs around 4,000 pounds. Nancy said this is the equivalent of your vehicle crushing a soda can–only the car is a train, and the soda can is your car. She said it takes the train a mile to stop once the engineer puts it into emergency stop.

So, how do you avoid this tragedy? Look for the train, listen for the warning whistle and live to drive another day. Stop and wait for the train; do not try to beat it. Stop a safe distance from the track because some cargo on the train can overhang the railroad tracks.

“Be mindful of the train tracks,” Police Chief Rodney Barnett added. If a car has just crossed the tracks, know that it may have to stop, leaving the next car in line trapped on the tracks. Make sure there is enough room to clear the tracks, and the train on the tracks, before attempting to cross.

During the school traffic rush, parents can keep the line of traffic moving at the school by having students ready to exit the vehicle when they pull up to the drop off point. Parents of older students can use the lane closest to the playground to drop off their students. Keeping the line moving can help parents make smart choices about crossing the tracks.

There you have it, folks, the key to avoiding an accident with a train is simply to stop!
Nancy Hudson can present Train Safety at any event. She can be reached through Operation Lifesaver in Birmingham.

–Lisa Moon is a resident of Thorsby and the current manager of Main Street Market. She can be reached by e-mail at