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Railroad Safety: Can Never Be Too Careful

JACKSON, Miss.- In light of the two deaths that happened Wednesday involving a CSX freight train in Biloxi, it can never hurt to be too safe when dealing with railroads. 55-year-old Gulfport resident Kathy Paglia was killed by the train in her car at around 11, and later on Thursday morning at around 3:30, 44-year-old Biloxi resident Michael Fair was killed by a CSX train as well.

David Price is a Mississippi railroad enthusiast who has devoted years to collecting and preserving anything related to Mississippi railroad history. He says there is more than one victim when an accident occurs on a train track.

“The oft forgotten victims of accidents are the engineers running the trains,” Price said. “All they can do is run at reduced speed, have the headlight burning, and make lots of noise with the whistle (horn).”

Price said that it is totally impossible to stop a moving train without covering a lot of distance in the process. Thus the locomotive engineer has a box seat to the horror of an accident and is himself or herself in personal danger from truck collisions.

“Often, the engineer suffers lingering emotional trauma,” he added. “Some have to vacate their jobs for this reason.”

He also mentioned that that particular railroad is very busy and the crossings are protected by signage and safety devices, and that trains faithfully blow extended warnings at every crossing, operating at reduced speed in all congested areas.

Price didn’t know about the deaths on the coast, but said that the sad, but true fact was that there is only one person to place blame on in a grade-crossing accident, and that’s the motorist.

Here are 10 tips from Mississippi Highway Patrol on how to stay clear of a railroad accident.

  • Never walk or play on train tracks. It’s dangerous and illegal.
  • Never play or stay near a stopped train Cross train tracks at designated highway/railroad crossings.
  • Look for signals and respect them.
  • Be prepared to stop at crossings.
  • Cross the tracks in low gear; do not change gears while crossing.
  • Stalled vehicle? Get out quickly and move away from the vehicle and tracks.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles when approaching a crossing.
  • Remember a train can hide another.
  • Keep the MHP number handy.

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