Authorities in North Mississippi say they are continuing to investigate an accident that took place late Thursday night that involved a train and a tractor-trailer. The accident is the second train accident in Union County, MS just this week and the fourth such train accident in North Mississippi in under a month.
The fairly dramatic increase in the number of collisions has added to the worries among safety officials in the state. Across the country every 115 minutes, a person or vehicle is hit by a train and almost half of all collisions at railroad crossings occur when automatic warning devices like flashing lights or flashing lights with gates are present and are functioning properly. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are about 5,800 vehicle train crashes each year in the United States, most of which occur at railroad crossings. These accidents cause 600 deaths and injure about 2,300 people.
Investigators handling this case say that a locked gate is what started the dangerous chain of events that took place last Thursday. Evidently the truck driver was trying to find someone to come unlock a gate that was preventing him from entering into a business to make a delivery. In the mean time, the truck driver didn’t realize the back end of his semi was hanging out onto the train tracks. The train was unable to stop in time and it smashed into the 18-wheeler.
The truck driver has said that he was simply trying to drop off a load of recliner parts and never saw or heard the approaching train. Officials with the train company said that the conductor never saw the reflector lights on the back of the tractor-trailer until it was too late to stop.
The problem in this case and many others is that a train can take an enormous distance to come to a complete stop. A 150-car train traveling 50 miles per hour takes about a mile to stop, even in an emergency situation. Given the danger posed by such heavy trains, the public must take special precautions when around an active railroad.
For one thing, you should always slow down when approaching a railroad crossing. Secondly, never walk on the tracks. Even though trains are plenty loud it’s possible that you might not hear one approaching until it’s too late. Third, don’t become complacent. Just because you’re used to driving a certain route and not encountering trains does not mean that will always be the case. Pay attention whenever you’re around railroad tracks.
Source: “Train officials concerned with increase in accidents, ” by Julee Brown, published at WTVA.com.
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