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Railroad Officials: pay attention to signals

By Karissa Manis, Producer, kmanis@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 08 2013 08:17:08 PM CST

Flashing lights are a warning at a railroad crossing that a train is on it's way.
Grant Pennings lives near railroad tracks in Abingdon, Virginia and goes over them every day.
"I'll usually try to beat it, if i see one coming down Wyndale or coming up on Main Street, I usually try to beat it here," Pennings says.

Director of Public Relations at Norfolk Southern, Robin Chapman says, that's not a good idea.
"If you see a train coming, it's very difficult to tell how fast it's coming. It could appear to be a long way off, it could appear to be coming slowly, but trains are very large objects and large objects can move fast but appear to be moving slowly," Chapman says.

According to Operation Lifesaver's website, about every three hours, a person or a vehicle is hit by a train in the U.S.
It takes a train almost a mile to come to a complete stop.
"By the time the train crew sees there's an obstruction on the track ahead, it's typically too late to stop to avoid hitting it," Chapman continues.

Drivers should treat railroad crossing signs as if they were stop sings. When you approach one, come to a complete stop, and look both ways before crossing.
"A train can come at anytime. Freight trains don't run on regular schedules, so if people use a particular crossing regularly, they may get used to the idea, well this time of day there won't be any trains, but you can't rely on that."

Something that's not worth risking your life....just to save a little time.
"I'd say the majority of people are safe with it, don't want to mess around with trains," Pennings says.

It's also important to never walk on railroad tracks.
If you are in a car, and get stopped on the tracks, and a train is coming, Chapman says to get out of your car, and run.