Railroad crossing safety an issue

The American Press

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A spike in fatal train-car collisions across Louisiana is unfortunately a sign that not all motorists are heeding the warnings to be alert and cautious at railroad crossings. 

The Highway Safety Research Group at LSU reported last week that there were a total of seven fatal crashes in Louisiana in 2016 — the latest data available — involving trains. More than 32 injury-involved crashes were also reported. That’s a spike from 2015, when two collisions resulted in fatalities and 28 injury crashes were reported. 

What’s happening in the Bayou State appears to be following a national trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the number of people killed in railroad crossing accidents in 2016 was up 16 percent from a year earlier. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission partners with Louisiana Operation Lifesaver and other organizations to reduce the number of crashes at railroad crossings. 

Operation Lifesaver reports that a person or vehicle is hit by a train about every three hours. Distracted driving and trying to outrun a moving train are the main contributors often blamed for the incidents.  

It is important for drivers to realize that they and their passengers will almost always be the losers in a crash involving a moving train. A motorist in a crash between a train and a vehicle is many times more likely to die than in a collision between two motor vehicles. A train cannot swerve to avoid a vehicle in its path.

We urge Southwest Louisiana motorists to obey the flashing lights and lowered crossing gates at railroad crossings. Do not drive around them. It there are no warning signals, stop, look and listen.

We also remind drivers that you can’t always hear an approaching train. Be cautious when approaching tracks and look both ways.

Being alert and cautions could save your life and that of your passengers.

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the board, whose members are Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, Emily Fontenot, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones

The American Press welcomes letters to the editor. Here’s how to submit them. Email: news@americanpress.com. Mail: P.O. Box 2893, Lake Charles, LA 70602. Fax: 494-4070. Web: Submit your letter here.

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