Staying safe at railroad crossings

"Always Expect a Train" at a railroad crossing

MASON CITY, Iowa – Getting stopped at a train crossing might be a headache, but it’s better than the alternative; running into the train.

Mason City is a town full of busy railroad crossing intersections, so it’s important to make sure that everyone stays safe while driving around town. According to Operation Lifesaver, an organization that works to promote railroad safety, reports that in 2013, 250 crossing fatalities happened nationwide, with 5 of these being in Iowa and 6 in Minnesota.

There is an effort from Operation Lifesaver, to make these railroad crossings a little bit safer. Jim Ewalt, the president of the organization, says their newest approach is to post signs around town that remind drivers about the importance of slowing down and looking both ways.

“It’s all about safety,” he says, “We are just trying to save lives.” They’re not alone. Over the years, troopers with the Iowa State Patrol have been working on reducing the number of accidents between cars and trains as well.

So far, they have done everything from patrolling railroad crossings, to riding along with train conductors and ticketing drivers who fail to yield to a train. Sgt. Rick Busch, one of the organizers of the ride-along program with the Iowa State Patrol says, he constantly sees motorists fail to slow down or yield at crossings.

He says it’s important for folks to remember that. “Anytime they approach a railroad crossing, they should be very cautious and look both ways.”

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