LAWRENCE COUNTY, Mo. — Forty-six Missourians were killed or injured after engaging in unsafe behavior around railroads last year. This week, law enforcement professionals around the state are raising awareness as part of Rail Safety Week.
The 2019 Rail Safety campaign is called #ClearTheTracks, exactly what law enforcement urges motorists and pedestrians to do. Walking or driving around a lowered gate, stopping directly on the tracks and taking photos on railways are some of the main ways track tragedies occur.
However, some incidents are true accidents. For example, most railroad crossings in rural Missouri towns do not have gates or flashing lights to alert motorists of oncoming trains. In these cases, drivers must come to a complete stop, listen for a train and look both ways before crossing the tracks. Railroad accidents at unprotected crossings are all too common in Lawrence County, and have resulted in several fatalities this year.
“Unfortunately in Lawrence County, we have had our recent experiences with people trying to run [around gates] and unfortunately ending up in some fatalities,” explained Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay. “Several of those [deaths] have been down around the Marionville / Aurora highway 60, and the railways through there.”
Many officers will be patrolling railroad crossings more than usual, the intent is not to penalize drivers but rather inform them. “We’ve been partnering up with several railroads and our purpose is to simply place deputies at different railroad crossings in the area,” said DeLay.
Drivers are encouraged to realize that shortcuts or adrenaline rushes are not worth the devastating consequences that could result.