Stay back when the train is on the track
A less-than-familiar site could be seen in Estherville Tuesday afternoon when a Union Pacific passenger train took a round trip to Gruver.
Operation Lifesaver is a highway-rail grade crossing safety education program. Steve Wendt, a locomotive engineer for 40 years and member of Operation Lifesaver from Mason City, talked to 44 of the 150 passengers about grade crossing safety.
Iowa ranks 10th in the nation for accidents on train tracks.
The national statistics are astounding:
n Last year there were 2,337 accidents on train tracks.
n 286 people were killed in motorized accidents on the tracks.
n 458 people were killed in non-motorized accidents (walking on the tracks, for example).
n 426 people were injured in motorized accidents.
n 913 people were injured in non-motorized accidents.
Wendt talked about the stopping distance of different vehicles going 55 miles per hour. A car needs about 200 feet, a school bus needs 230 feet and a semi needs 300 feet. A train needs 5,280 feet – or one mile.
One safety tip for drivers includes watching for the number of tracks at a crossing. If there is more than one track, the number will be posted on the crossing sign. Wendt also said that drivers should not stop, pass or shift on crossings.
If your car stalls on the tracks when a train is approaching, get out of the car. A Department of Transportation phone number is posted at each crossing. If your car stalls when no train is present, call the number and they will alert any trains in the area.