Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
The goal to improve railroad crossing safety fits perfectly with the mission of Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization founded in 1972 that provides public education programs to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.
They partnered with Norfolk Southern Railway in their “Train Your Brain” public safety railroad program. Alabama was selected to be involved in the campaign due to the state’s high-incidence for train-vehicle crashes and trespass injuries.
On July 25, 2012 Sain Designer, Jennifer Brown, and I went on an Operation Lifesaver Train Ride that took us from Decatur, Alabama to Sheffield and back in 1940s era Norfolk Southern passenger cars.
Cameras were placed on the front of the train, and TV monitors were set up in each rail car for us to gain a perspective of what the engineer/conductor sees as they drive along the tracks.
We were able to see how fast the train moves and how little there is for the engineer to do if a car or person is in his path. It further reinforced the significance of the work we’ve done with rail safety and the importance of keeping traffic off the tracks when the trains are coming through.
At the event, there were representatives from many different groups who all have an interest in making railroads safer: railroad employees, ALDOT employees, MPO representatives, City and County representatives, law enforcement, fire and rescue groups, teachers and engineering consultants like us.
We even had our picture taken with Brainy, Norfolk Southern’s public safety mascot, who was there to remind everyone about the importance of being smart around railroad crossings!
The education and outreach work of Operation Lifesaver is definitely paying off. They have helped reduce the number of train/motor vehicle collisions from a 1972 nationwide high of about 12,000 annual incidents to a 2009 record low of approximately 1,900 incidents.
Read more about the safety gains made in 2011 here.
Sain Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Cullman, Alabama, Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.