MUSCLE SHOALS — Members of the Sheffield Railroad Yard Safety Committee were scattered throughout Colbert County on Thursday to spread their message about railroad crossing safety.
Volunteers from Norfolk Southern were at five railroad crossings distributing literature on safety tips at highway and rail crossings.
“We’re doing a crossing blitz,” said Tim Wagnon, a presenter and trainer for Alabama Operation Lifesaver. “This time of year there are more people out on the roads, and we’re trying to take time to get the message about safety out to them.”
Volunteers with the safety committee were at railroad crossings at Avalon Avenue, Sixth Street, Atlanta Avenue, Montgomery Avenue and The Village.
Wagnon said Operation Lifesaver educates the public about safety at vehicle-train intersections.
“It’s a good reminder for people about railroad crossing safety,” Muscle Shoals Police Chief Robert Evans said. “Unfortunately, until you have a traffic accident involving a car or truck and a train, people lose sight on how important safety is at a crossing.”
According to statistics from Alabama Operation Lifesaver, through Aug. 31 there have been 56 collisions involving trains in the state. There were 23 injuries but no fatalities.
He said the crossbuck sign — or crossing sign — means slow and yield if a train is approaching.
Flashing lights require a driver to stop and when the crossing gates are down, the road is closed.
“Never go around a down gate and always remember trains have the right of way,” Wagnon said.
He said a train, weighing 6,000 tons, traveling 55 mph, will take a mile to stop.
Wagnon said Operation Lifesaver efforts have been going on for the past 15-20 years. “And with upgrade crossings, the removal of some unused crossings and education, it’s working,” he said.
Wagnon said there still are problems from time to time with people walking on railroad tracks, which is trespassing under the law.
“We’re volunteers. We take this on our own to get out and do this because we have a real concern for communities and the safety of the public,” Wagnon said.
For more information on Operation Lifesaver visit www.oli.org.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.