Troopers, Operation Life Saver pushing safety at railroad crossings

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 11:18 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Highway Patrol says warning arms and signs at railroad tracks around the Lowcountry could mean the difference between life and death.

The National Highway Safety Administration says a vehicle or person is involved in a collision with a train approximately every three hours in the United States. State troopers and South Carolina Operation Life Saver want to change that figure.

Lance Cpl. Nick Pye says the Highway Patrol is shooting for a goal of zero fatalities.

Pye says drivers who see the warning signs should keep their patience and stop immediately because a train is coming, even when they can’t see which side it’s coming from.

“The most important thing in life is getting home to your family and friends and being able to wake up and do it again the next day,” Pye says.

Janice Cowen, the state coordinator for Operation Life Saver say that if your car becomes disabled on the tracks, you should find the blue sign on the railroad crossing with the track ID number and call the number listed on the sign for help.

If your car becomes disabled on train tracks when a train is coming, Pye says you should move away at a 45-degree angle away from the tracks but in the direction from which the train is approaching. That will help you avoid the “debris field.” If a train hits a vehicle it will scatter debris forward in the direction the train is moving. So moving away from the tracks and in the opposite direction of the train helps you avoid injury.

Once safe, you can then call the number to alert authorities to the accident scene.

Pye and Cowen say people can become complacent living in communities near train tracks and to remember that these tips and warning arms can be used to save a life.