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UP program promotes safety

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Union Pacific locomotive approaches an intersection in Dexter during a UP Cares event to promote safety. Dexter PD Patrolman Brad Brown, engineer Walter Lewis and conductor Rance Braswell ran a locomotive through town to observe motorists at intersections as trains approached.
Law enforcement joined with Union Pacific (UP) officials and local media for a train ride to highlight rail crossing safety Wednesday as part of UP Cares (Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety). The event was organized by Operation Lifesaver and included Dexter Police, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Union Pacific Railroad Police.

UP is gearing up for a busier than normal summer. Currently approximately 60 to 70 trains per day pass through Dexter.

Ernie Lautrup, manager of operating practice for UP in Dexter, said there is some major track work underway in Texas, which will lead to more train traffic through Dexter this summer. He said UP has added some new business that will also contribute to this increased traffic.

The event Wednesday was aimed at making motorists more aware of safety issues and the need to observe all warning devices.

Dexter is the crossroads for three major UP sub-divisions. The Hoxie Sub-division runs from North Little Rock, Ark., to Dexter. The Chester Sub-division runs from Dexter to St. Louis and the Jonesboro Sub-division runs from Dexter to Pine Bluff, Ark.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 2,083 highway-rail collisions in 2013 resulting in 251 fatalities. This marks an 83 percent reduction in motor vehicle/train collisions since Operation Lifesaver began in 1972. Missouri had 46 highway-rail collisions in 2013. These accidents resulted in two fatalities and 31 injuries.

Stoddard County had no highway-rail collisions in 2013, down from five collisions with vehicles which resulted in one fatality and four injuries in 2012.

Other Bootheel counties did not fare as well. Cape Girardeau County had one collision, Butler County had one collision with two injuries and Dunklin County had one collision with one injury.

A car passes in front of the UP locomotive at the One Mile road interesection.
In Missouri, 44 percent of public railroad crossings are equipped with active warning devices (flashing lights or flashing lights and gates). Over half (51 percent) of the crashes occurred at crossings with active warning devices, and 35 percent occurred at crossings with flashing lights and gates.

A growing problem is the number of injuries occurring from trespassing on railroad property. There were 488 trespassing fatalities in the U.S. in 2013. The number of fatalities and injuries from trespassing continues to increase annually. Missouri had 16 trespass incidents, resulting in 12 fatalities and seven injuries in 2013. This is an increase from 2012 when there were 15 incidents with 10 fatalities and six injuries.

"People like to use railroad tracks, trestles and railroad cars as a setting for photographs," said Mike McGill with Operation Lifesaver. "This is dangerous and against the law."

McGill said railroad track, equipment and trestles are private property. Walking, climbing, hunting, and riding ATVs on tracks is illegal.

"It is also extremely dangerous," said McGill.

The average train is 100 cars, one mile long and weighs 6,000 pounds (12 million pounds). Traveling at 55 miles per hour, it would take a little more than a mile (18 football fields) to stop.

UP provides the following rail crossing collision statistics:

* Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles a person's home. Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.

* A motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than a collision involving another motor vehicle.

* The majority of highway-rail collisions occur when the train is traveling less than 30 miles per hour.

* One out of five collisions involves a motorist hitting the train.

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Please respect these giant locomotives, a car will lose in every case of an accident.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Fri, Mar 14, 2014, at 7:38 PM

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