MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — State troopers this week are spending time near train crossings across the state to talk to drivers about the importance of safety on the tracks.
Alabama had the 7th highest number of train crossing collisions last year at 85, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Operation Clear Track aims to change that.
When the lights turn red, the arm goes down and you can hear the train coming, the message is clear.
“Just stop and be patient,” ALEA Sgt. Jeremy Burkett said.
Yielding to the train is also the law. But last year, nine people died in Alabama and 30 were injured from train collisions or from walking on the tracks.
With more than 6,000 public and private crossings and over 3,700 miles of track, Nancy Hudson with Alabama’s Operation Lifesaver sees why the state ranks so high when it comes to railroad-related deaths.
“We have a lot of track, we have a lot of trains. So many times, a driver gets frustrated and they don’t want to wait,” Hudson said.
Operation Lifesaver is a national nonprofit that’s teamed up with ALEA and Amtrak to bring awareness to railroad safety this week.
ALEA is stationed at crossings throughout the state, handing out flyers to drivers reminding them to be patient and stay off the tracks.
Burkett says if there’s any reason you can’t get off the tracks, at least get out of your car.
“Say you cross the railroad tracks and your vehicle shuts down or stalls or you have some type of emergency, automatically get out of that vehicle even if you don’t see a train,” Burkett said.
Hudson says ultimately they want to save lives by making people more aware of the crossings.
“We want a driver to, every time they see tracks, we want them to think ‘train,'” Hudson said.
Rail safety week goes until Sunday, and you can learn more about ALEA and Operation Lifesaver’s efforts, and take the rail safety pledge at alea.gov.