Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

April 12, 2012

Safety training for crossings

VALDOSTA — The accident in Homerville Monday is just the latest of many which occur each year in South Georgia between vehicles and trains.

Too often, even if the intersection has signals, motorists will ignore the flashing lights, or drive around the crossing gates, in an attempt to “beat the train.”

Yes, having trains sit idle on tracks that cross busy highways around Valdosta is a nightmare. The trains have been known to block traffic for up to an hour, and 20 to 30 minutes is the average wait time, several times a day, for some of these crossings. However, there are always alternative routes, and everyone knows the tracks are there, so these areas can be avoided.

In Hahira, the city is facing a unique situation in that it has one crossing that does not have signals at all — it only has a stop sign to delay motorists. There are two other crossings within a very short distance, but this particular one is creating some emotional turmoil for the community as the city debates its closure.

A 6 p.m. meeting Monday at the Hahira Courthouse will allow the public to comment on the issue, and the city is actively trying to keep the citizens involved in any future decision.

It’s unfortunate that drivers ignore safety features that are placed there to protect them, and it’s even more unfortunate that train vs. vehicle accidents are often fatal to not only the car’s occupants but to the train engineer as well.

It’s important to remember that railroads are an economic lifeline in any community, and motorists need to respect and obey the flashing lights, the crossing guard arms, stop signs, etc., as the consequences of ignoring them can be deadly.

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