Pascagoula railroad safety blitz aims to save lives

By Patrice Clark - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - So far this year, two people have been involved in car-train accidents in Jackson County. One died, the other walked away. CSX Officials said most people aren't that lucky.

That's why CSX teamed up with the Pascagoula Police Department to get the safety message out, so drivers don't ignore the crossing warnings.

"Everybody's in a hurry to get somewhere," Pascagoula Captain George Tillman said.

Unfortunately, the flashing lights, the train's loud whistle and barricades have little impact on some drivers.

Tillman said he's worked several collisions and fatalities at Pascagoula's eight railroad crossings. He doesn't understand why anyone would want to try to race a train.

"A rail car is not something you want to compete with."

To catch people disobeying the warning signs, Tillman and CSX Safety Supervisor Bob Martin set up a locomotive to pass back and forth in the city during peak traffic hours. Luckily, they didn't see many violators.

"When the arms were down, we had nobody go around the arms; we had a few who thought about it," Tillman said.

"To hit a train or get hit by a train, you are going to have to violate the law," Martin said.

Police said they were expecting to find more people ignoring the train laws, especially at the Hospital Road crossing.

"Hospital Road intersection is our main crossing that we have problems with, whether it is a car running into a train or a car stopping on the railroad tracks," Tillman said.

"Think of it like this, if it is a tie at the crossing, you're going to lose. Because the train outweighs your vehicle 4,000 to one," Martin said.

Both Martin and Captain Tillman said drivers need to remember these simple train safety steps.

"Respect the railroad crossing," Tillman said.

"If you look for the train, listen for the train, you will live to see tomorrow," Martin said.

CSX officials said over the past five years, 27 collisions and nine fatalities occurred in Jackson County.

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