GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - All across the US Tuesday, local police, Amtrak officials, and folks from Operation Lifesaver took part in a safety exercise meant to increase safety and awareness around railroad tracks.
Moss Point resident Mark Cumbest, who works in Gulfport, said he was stopped for driving over the tracks near the intersection of Pass Rd. and 30th Ave. while the railroad lights were flashing.
"It's a worthy cause. It'll be a lifesaver," Cumbest said. "People are taking this and bringing this to the forefront."
Officials say this U.S. Rail Safety Week is the first of its kind and is aimed at raising awareness for caution near the tracks. Executive Director Kim Sloane with Mississippi Operation Lifesaver says every three hours, someone in America is hit by a train and she wants to do something about it.
"Some crossings only have crossbucks, others have gates and lights, and an advance warning sign, which is the yellow sign with RR on it and the black X," Sloane explained. "When you see any of those, you're supposed to start slowing down and paying attention."
She wants to remind drivers, running a red light at a crossing is the same as running a red light at any intersection. She also hopes to eliminate confusion around the tracks.
"Typically when you see the lights, most, I would venture to guess most drivers just look both ways. They may not see things. They may not come to a full stop, and that could be a fatal mistake," Cumbest said.
Operation Clear Track exercises were also held in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, and Pascagoula.