Illinois Ranks 3rd Highest for Train-Vehicle Fatalities
Illinois is ranked third highest in the country in train-vehicle fatalities and sixth for pedestrian-trespassing deaths, according to the Federal Railroad Association.
2016 saw the highest highway-rail fatality rate since 2008. Nationally, someone is struck by a train every three hours.
"Driving some sort of vehicle, they're a passenger, they're a pedestrian crossing where they're legally allowed to but maybe not at the right time," said Chip Pew, a spokesperson at Operation Lifesaver.
Once warning devices are activated, a train will approach a crossing in 20 seconds, but many accidents happen because people try to beat the train across the tracks.
"I see people all the time trying to run across the tracks, ride a bike across the tracks, I see kids playing around the tracks," said Twuan Mack, who lives in Springfield next to train tracks.
"People think it's traveling slower than it actually is and maybe they decide to try to beat that train and unfortunately, that train's going to be on them in a hurry and there are cases where people lose their lives because that optical illusion," Pew said.
Several accidents happen when vehicles stall or wreck on train tracks and motorists fail to properly report the problem or emergency.
"At or near every railroad crossing, not just in Illinois, but around the country is this new standardized blue sign," Pew said. "On that sign, it has the crossings unique address and the number to contact the railroad."
In Springfield, a 100 car freight train weighing close to 12 million pounds is the average size, and it takes a mile for that train to stop.
"If that train was to strike the average 3,000 pound vehicle, it would be the same weight ratio as your vehicle running over a can of pop," Pew explained.
"Wait for the train," Mack said. "A life ain't worth losing over time, trying to beat something out."