The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

July 12, 2014

Texas Operation Lifesaver urges safety near railroad tracks


A lapse in judgement. Not paying attention. Not learning basic rules to follow.


That's what leads to the deaths of many pedestrians or drivers across the nation who make the wrong decisions around train tracks.


In fact, about every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train, according to Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization providing public education programs in all 50 states to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.


In 1972, when Operation Lifesaver began, there were approximately 12,000 collisions between trains and motor vehicles annually. By 2013, according to preliminary statistics, the number of train/motor vehicle collisions had been reduced by about 83 percent to 2,087 (223 in Texas). Also in 2013, there were 476 pedestrian rail trespass fatalities — including 25 in Texas. In addition, there were 250 highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2013, including 20 in Texas.


“These accidents are preventable,” Texas Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Sally Tingle said during a phone interview with the Herald-Press. “The train has the right of way and a lot of the public doesn't realize that. You have to expect a train anywhere, anytime in any direction. Any time is train time.”


Tingle and other Texas Operation Lifesaver volunteers present free railroad safety education programs across the state to children, community groups, bus drivers, businesses, truck drivers, etc.


On June 26, a 15-year-old Malakoff teenager died after running into the path of an oncoming train near Athens.


Investigators said the teen had been with two of his friends walking when they heard the train approaching the crossing. The teen allegedly said to his friends, “Come on, let’s see if we can beat the train across the tracks,” according to a story published in the June 28 edition of the Athens Daily Review. All three began running toward the tracks, but the friends stopped, and shouted to the other boy that he wasn’t going to make it across before the train arrived.

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