Operation Lifesaver: Railroad crossing safety an issue in Ventura County

September 02, 2005
Santa Paula News

It was only about 18 months ago that Ventura County saw the launch of an aggressive program to promote railroad safety, but motorists and pedestrians are still ignoring rail-related traffic laws.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIt was only about 18 months ago that Ventura County saw the launch of an aggressive program to promote railroad safety, but motorists and pedestrians are still ignoring rail-related traffic laws.The latest incident occurred August 24 when a passenger train collided with a dump truck near Somis at an unarmed crossing, causing serious injury to the truck’s two occupants. On August 5, 19 people were injured when an Amtrak train collided with a dump truck at a similar private unmarked crossing, also in Somis, just north of Camarillo. Other accidents have taken place where drivers - and pedestrians - have plenty of warning.Ignoring rail safety laws can be expensive. Failing to yield at a railroad crossing - even if the crossing arms touch the rear bumper of a passing vehicle - can garner a $275 citation for the first offense... that is, if the violator lives through it.Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit national organization based in Alexandria, Virginia, partners with law enforcement to not only issue citations but to educate the public how important it is to adhere to rail safety laws. The program involves law enforcement riding on trains, acting as spotters for patrol units to target violators. There are 15 states that Operation Lifesaver focuses on, and California is on the list.
In fact, California led the nation in railroad crossing fatalities last year, with 34 deaths of motorists and 86 deaths of pedestrians. Operation Lifesaver has been involved in railroad safety in Ventura County for more than a year in an effort to raise awareness and reduce accidents.Some interesting train facts: the train is about three feet wider on each side than the tracks it rides on, and a train traveling 55 mph takes a mile to stop after the brakes are applied.“Look, Listen, Live!” is the motto of Operation Lifesaver, which cautions that moving trains aren’t what they seem: you cannot adequately judge a train’s speed or distance, as trains give the illusion of traveling slower - and farther away - than they actually are. And the illusion is even stronger at night.Remember: lumbering freight trains can be also be dangerous, although they usually travel at a lower rate of speed than passenger trains and make more noise. Amtrak passenger trains are very fast and quiet, perhaps a reason that many fatal pedestrian collisions are with passenger trains.



Site Search

Tel: 805 525-6048  marydeines@roadrunner.com
E-Subscribe

Subscribe

E-SUBSCRIBE
Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.

webmaster