When it comes to railroad crossings, those who look and listen, live.
Residents are encouraged to practice railroad safety, after a man, who was allegedly driving under the influence, hit a railroad crossing last week.
Georgia ranked sixth in a list of states with the most highway-rail grade crossing collisions, with 89 collisions in 2011, according to the Operation Lifesaver website.
Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization aimed at the prevention of collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.
According to Operation Lifesaver, the force of a 30-car freight train hitting a car is the same as the force of a car crushing an aluminum soda can. For this reason, driving around lowered gates, and trying to beat the train, is both illegal and deadly.
“Even if you tie, the train wins,” Officer Wesley Engle of the LaGrange Police Department said.
Drivers in a hurry, he said, can almost always find an alternate route when stopped by a passing train. Drivers on South Greenwood, for example, can go around the train via Shorts Street.
“Sometimes it’s quicker to wait right there,” Engle said. “A few minutes isn’t much when it comes to your life, your property or endangering someone else.
Unless crossing over the railroad, he said, it’s best not to be near it at all. Walking alongside a railroad is a form of criminal trespassing, which often leads to prosecution from railroad companies.
Engle also recommends that residents look both ways after a train has passed, in case another is coming from the opposite direction.
“Always expect a train,” he said. “This is machinery, so anything can happen.”
For more information on Operation Lifesaver, visit www.oli.org.