Train Safety Awareness Month
By Michael Brooks
Governor Gregg Abbott recently signed legislature that named July Train Safety awareness month. Although train collisions in the U.S. have remained right around 2,000, Jackson County had its last train accident in 2015, and there have only been four train related fatalities in Jackson County in the last decade. In the event of a train accident, first responders will be ready to go.
“We do have resources. We do HAZMAT training every couple of years, and every train car should be marked. If we can see the markings on the train we can see what they’re carrying. If there is a wreck, we would be able to identify, and know if we need to evacuate,” said ESD#3 Captain Nick Strauss. “Most of what we do is cross training. We train for vehicle extractions and that training could be used in the case of a train accident.”
Aside from accident statistics, there are some laws that citizens may not be aware of.
“Walking on the railroad tracks is considered trespassing,” Police Chief Clinton Wooldridge said. “It is also illegal to cross the tracks when the lights are flashing, whether there are crossing arms or not.
“If a train is stopped in Edna, it is probably broken down, but in the country, the conductor may be taking a break. They are mandated to do this every eight hours, and they can’t move the train forward, even if it only a couple of feet.”
“Sometimes a sensor will trip and cause a train to stop,” said Captain Bruce McConathy of the Edna Police Department. “One time a train was stopped in town and it turned out to be caused by a tripped sensor.”
Wooldridge also said that sometimes citizens misunderstand what rights a train has.
“The quiet zone doesn’t mean that a train cannot blow its horn when it passes through the intersection, but it does mean that it doesn’t have to,” Wooldridge continued. “One time, someone reported that a train was going by their house too fast. A train can’t be ticketed for speeding.”
If residents keep driving safely, Jackson County can continue forward without any train accidents.