Local News

Despite Lack of Signals, Gates, Experts Urge Drivers to Use Good Judgement at Rail Crossings

Posted March 18, 1998

— A woman is dead after trying to outrun an Amtrak passenger train in Clayton Wednesday. It's the third train accident in the Johnston County town in less than a year.

Like many of our state's railroad crossings, there were no gates guarding the tracks where the accident occurred. But state transportation officials say that's only part of the problem.

Jane Mosley is coordinator of the state's Operation Lifesaver, a program to promote safety at rail crossings.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."No matter if there is a gate,if there is not a gate, bell or light there is always a cross buck. The cross buck says railroad crossing, is to the motoring public a yield sign."Even when there are crossing signs, some drivers still try to beat the train and find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Thirty two percent of crossings in North Carolina have active warning devices.Norfolk Southern Limited'sJim Roane says half of all collisions happen at those crossings.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."It's all the drivers in a hurry, not wanting to wait for the train, and I can understand that, and you can understand that, but five minutes out of your life is not worth your life."TheDepartment of Transportation'sPaul Worley says even if the puts active warning devices at all railroad crossings, safety still boils down to good judgement.

Listen toauorreal audiofiles."We try our best to try to signalize crossings,and try to look at closing as many crossings as we can, but it still comes down to the driver and you can't completely engineer it out."Hundreds of train crossings in North Carolina aren't equipped with signals or crossing gates. Of the 4,979 public crossings, fewer than 1,000 have gates. Another 769 are signaled without gates.

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