A ride on a CSX train helped three USM Gulf Coast nursing students with their community health project. One of the students was Rusty Shoultz. He said the project's main goal "is community awareness. Make the community aware that the trains are here."
On a ride from Waveland to Ocean Springs, the nursing students recorded every driver who threw caution to the wind when a car drove cross the tracks. While still in Hancock County, student Mark Griffith noted that "so far we're doing pretty good. We've got 10 crossings crossed with only two crossings where cars kept crossing through."
But in more populated Harrison County, a lot more drivers ignored the train's oncoming warnings. That's always a concern for the men who operate the trains. As one car darted in front of the CSX engine, conductor D.L. Huff said, "Sometimes you wonder what they're thinking."
An example of Huff's concern was seen in downtown Gulfport when a car swerved around the 24th Avenue crossing arms. That sort of slalom maneuver is an everyday sight for 28 year veteran engineer Jim Booker. He told the students that drivers "just race the train until they can get to one that they think they can get across and then they all dart right across."
The nursing students often had suprised looks on their faces as they watched cars cross in front of their train. T.D. Huckabee now has a better appreciation of how a train operates and what it can do. "It's so big," Huckabee said. "It's so heavy. And it moves so fast. And it takes so long for it to stop. And yet these people still continue to try and beat it."
The USM Gulf Coast nursing students will now attempt to do what C-S-X already does. They'll finish their research, and then try to convince drivers that waiting for a train is a healthier alternative than trying to beat one.