Transportation

Drivers And Pedestrians Are Warned About The Dangers Of Railroad Crossings

Texas leads the nation in the number of car-train collisions. There are also a high number of accidents involving people walking on tracks.

We’re getting a safety briefing as we pull out of downtown Houston’s Amtrak Station in one of Union Pacific vintage rail cars. We’re up top in the observation car, enjoying comfy seats and lots of legroom. But the trip has a serious purpose.

Union Pacific Vice-President of Public Affairs Brenda Mainwaring says Texas remains the top state in the country for collisions between vehicles and trains.

“We have drivers that just aren’t paying enough attention to realize the gate arms have come down,” says Mainwaring. “Or they’re in a hurry and they don’t have time to wait. They’ve already spent 30 minutes stuck in traffic. They’re just in a hurry to get to work. They’ll try to race the train. Those always end badly for the driver.”

In 2015 there were 224 crashes in Texas where vehicles were struck by trains. 19 people died in those collisions. Close to 100 people were hurt.

Mainwaring says those crashes are also traumatic for the crew in the locomotive.

“Because the last thing they’ve seen sometimes is that person realizing that they’ve made a bad decision,” adds Mainwaring. “And that can last with the crew of a train forever.”  

And it’s not just cars. Texas ranks second in the number of pedestrians who are hit by trains.

Mainwaring says one of the big things they’re concerned about is people who pose for photographs on the tracksShe says it’s okay to take pictures from a safe distance, but if you’re on the tracks you’re officially trespassing on railroad property.

 

Share

Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

More Information