WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – This is national Rail Safety Week. That means a national effort is underway right now to remind everyone of the dangers of being on or near train tracks.
Police in several Connecticut towns handed out safety cards at traffic stops near railroad crossings. Most of the tips are common sense things, but they could save lives.
For instance, everyone should remember that trains cannot swerve and are not great at braking.
“It takes trains quite a while to stop,” said Lt. Cheryl Bradley, of the Wallingford Police Department. “It can be over a mile before they can come to a complete stop, and because that area is so congested, we’re focusing our effort in that area.”
As part of rail safety week, the DMV put out a public service announcement pointing out how tiny your 3,000 pound car is compared to a 12 million pound train. It’s roughly as tiny as a soda can is to a car, and you know what happens when a car runs over a soda can.
If that’s what can happen when a train hits your car, imagine what could happen if a train hits you.
“If pedestrians are out on the tracks, they may not hear or see the train before its too late,” Lt. Bradley said.
It has happened in Wallingford before. 21-year-old Giovanni Policard was hit and killed by a train near the Route 15 overpass in January of 2012. In April of 2016, 24 year-old Brittany Tine was killed by a train while walking on the tracks.
The message is: Always assume a train is coming, especially if the gates are down.
“The gates could typically stay down for quite a period of time as a train is approaching and making its stops, so at time we have people trying to outrun the gates,” said Bradley.
Wallingford police chose to hand out safety cards at a busy crossing near the old train station because a traffic light near there can back cars up all the way to the train tracks. That is why a nearby sign reads: “Do not stop on tracks.”
It is also why two of the prominent tips on the safety card advise drivers to never stop on grade crossings, and only cross train tracks if they are certain they can safely make it to the other side.
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