Operation Lifesaver will be conducting a railroad safety blitz in Springville on August 11 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. for two hours at several railroad crossings in town.

Carter Roberts works for Norfolk Southern as a locomotive engineer and will be one of several volunteers handing out safety pamphlets at the crossings. “We like to do it in communities because most accidents happen within 25 miles of people’s homes,” Roberts said. “Operation Lifesaver been around since 1972 and there’s been an 80 percent reduction in accidents since that time. There were under 3,000 accidents last year nationwide.”

According to their website, www.oli.org, Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit, international continuing public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks, and on railroad rights-of-way. The programs are sponsored cooperatively by federal, state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations, and the nation’s railroads.

Roberts said that Alabama stays in the top 15 each year in the number of railroad crossing accidents. The state was ranked number eight last year and number seven in 2007.

“Alabama is one of the states that the operation really concentrates on,” Roberts said. “There’s about 4,500 miles of railroad track in the state which translates into about 6,000 railroad crossings. That’s the reason we’re in the top 15 each year.”

Oftentimes, rural crossings are assumed to be the most dangerous because of their lack of active warning systems, but Roberts said about half of the accidents in state occur at crossings with warning systems. “In state, the most accidents happen in Jefferson County and they also have the most warning systems,” Roberts noted.

Other facts regarding trains:

- Trains are doing an average of 30 miles per hour when they strike vehicles.

- Approximately every two hours in the United States, a train hits a person or vehicle.

- A typical locomotive weighs approximately 400,000 pounds or 200 tons. When 100 railcars are added to the locomotive, the train can weigh approximately 6,000 tons. The weight ratio of an automobile to a train is proportional to a soda can and an automobile.

A train may extend three feet or more outside the steel rail, which makes the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the rails themselves.

- Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale “clackety-clack.” Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.

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