MASON CITY, IA — No matter your experience, there’s always an element of risk when getting behind the wheel, but at railroad crossings those risks are made even more dangerous if you’re not paying attention.
In many rural towns throughout the country, railroad crossings usually have a sign, but that’s about it so if you are not paying attention, you could be putting yourself at risk.
“Basically it comes down to their responsibility and looking at the warning signs. At night, you don’t know if there’s a train up there, you can’t tell if ones coming during the day so every driver should just be ready to slow down and be ready to stop,” said Jim Ewalt, President of Iowa Operation Lifesaver.
As part of Iowa Operation Lifesaver, Jim works along the Federal Railroad Administration to decide ways of making railroads safer.
“Basically it comes down to their responsibility and looking at the warning signs. At night, you don’t know if there’s a train up there, you can’t tell if ones coming during the day so every driver should just be ready to slow down and be ready to stop,” said Ewalt.
Ironically enough, these areas are not the ones with the most accidents. A new study from the Federal Railroad Administration shows that almost half of the collisions between trains and vehicles occur at crossings fully equipped with active warning devices.
Something that has one man local man saying, it has to be up to the driver at that point.
“From what I understand is they were going fast and they didn’t even stop to even see if a train was coming. And I’m certain, you can hear a train coming. Even if it didn’t have the signs, if there’ tracks, at least slow down,” said William Hill of Mason City.
Saturday’s tragic train collision in Rudd that left one man dead and another in critical condition has some looking for changes to be made to better protect against these types of incidents.
However, Jim stresses that the precautions are already there, if we choose to follow them.
“If people are driving like they should, whether it’s a gated crossing or just lights at a crossing or a cross buck, every driver should be preparing to stop when it comes to railroad crossings . Like I said, look, listen and live,” said Ewalt.