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Huntsville Police discuss railroad driving safety

Alabama ranks as number 9 in the nation for train collisions and number 8 when it comes to fatalities.

Posted: Dec. 17, 2018 5:58 PM

We now know the identities of the 2 people who were killed in a train collision this weekend. The Jefferson County coroner identified the victims as 45-year-old Lloyd Orr Junior and 35-year-old Kristi Cook. The two were in a vehicle and were trying to go around the barriers in place before they were hit by an Amtrak train and ejected from the car. No passangers on the train were injured.

Alabama ranks as number 9 in the nation for train collisions and number 8 when it comes to fatalities. Waay 31 reached out to local law enforcement about why these numbers are so high, and what's being done to bring them down.

A train safety advocacy group in Birmingham, Operation Lifesaver, said a lot of times people cross those tracks because they're in a hurry but they said people don't understand how long it takes to get around those gates and just how quickly the train will get to them.

"People are impatient and will go around them. Those usually result in a wreck when the train is coming that they haven't heard," said Officer David Broom.

Huntsville Traffic Investigator David Broom agreed with the advocacy group. He said often times people think they can beat the train but they misjudge just how fast the train is traveling.

"When a train is coming and the arms are coming down and they think they have enough time they probably don't."

Broom said drivers are legally required to stop any time those arms come down and if the stop doesn't have arms they are required to stop 15 feet from the tracks. Broom said he's worked many train related crashes and the outcome is never pretty.

"We usually don't know what kind of car it is until we look a little deeper because once a train hits a car it's mangled. And it's a terrible sight to see."

Officer Broom said it's possible for the gates to malfunction. That means the gates will come down but there is no train coming. He said if you find yourself in that situation you can call the number that is posted at each railroad crossing. That number will call the train station and alert them of the situation or you can call police. He also told us it is illegal to stop on railroad tracks and if you are caught doing so you will get a ticket.

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