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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Respecting railroad risks

With+train+tracks+running+parallel+to+campus%2C+Brazos+County+safety+officials+share+information+about+railroad+safety.
Photo by Photo by Dylan Manshack

With train tracks running parallel to campus, Brazos County safety officials share information about railroad safety.

Public safety officials in Brazos County are sharing information about railroad safety .
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, fatal railroad incidents have seen a 22.2 percent increase since 2014. The administration reports that 46 of the nation’s 594 fatal railroad accidents in 2016 occurred in Texas. During the year’s busiest travelling season, public safety officials in BCS are reminding motorists and pedestrians to stay alert and cautious around railroads.
Bob Colwell, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) office in Bryan, said paying attention to all signals and tracks is the most important thing motorists can do to be safe.
“Hede all the warning signs when you come to a railroad crossing,” Colwell said. “Keep in mind that there can be a train at any time, especially if there are multiple tracks. If you see one train go by, don’t assume that another one isn’t coming.”
Colwell said TxDOT is always working on new projects to keep the public safe. He said safety is the department’s top priority.
“We have several different safety programs that we implement at TXDOT,” Colwell said. “One of them is a state-sponsored program that ensures a smooth driving condition across railroad crossings for state highways. Another is a federally funded signal program that allows us to put up active warning devices, such as lights, gates and bells to alert motorists that there is a train coming.”
Lieutenant Craig Anderson of College Station Police Department said he has seen many incidents where drivers attempt to outrun a train. He said that these are among the most dangerous railroad accidents.
“When there’s a train on the track, don’t get in the way,” Anderson said. “With the college students in College Station, our investigations show that most incidents are from them trying to beat the train or not truly understanding what a train is capable of and how fast it’s going.”
Anderson said he has experienced a close-run with a train and understands that it is easy to get distracted. He said that is why it is so crucial to remain alert.
“When I was 21 or 22 years old, my mother lived by a railroad track,” Anderson explained. “I was coming home one evening and for whatever reason, I didn’t see the train coming down the track and I crossed over the track. Right after I crossed, the train came right behind me with the horn.”
Texas A&M Student Assistant Services has a web page dedicated to the subject of railroad safety. According to the website, the trains that run through College Station do not run on a schedule, so students should plan for one if they have to cross the tracks to get to class. The site also says that nobody should try to cross the tracks once the safety arms come down because they only come down about 15 seconds before the train.
Anderson said that college students should not feel compelled to tempt fate in any way near a railroad.
“Maybe younger people are risk-takers and reckless in the things they do,” Anderson said. “A lot of times we find that they don’t respect how dangerous trains can be. Whether it’s trying to beat the train across the track or going around the arms as a train is approaching, it’s all dangerous.”

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