Conway Police Department, Union Pacific Railroad and Operation Lifesaver joined forces Tuesday morning in downtown Conway to raise awareness on railroad crossing safety.
Organizers focused their efforts near the crossing at Main and Oak Streets, handing out literature containing safety tips and thank-you’s to motorists demonstrating safe driving practices as trains passed.
Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit, international public education program established in 1972 to end collisons, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights-of-way, and is supported by federal, state and local government agencies and highway safety organizations.
Sheryl Dudley, with Operation Lifesaver, called the group’s efforts a “positive enforcement operation.”
“We are trying to get the word out to be safe around the tracks ... and handing out goodies instead of tickets,” Dudley said.
Among tips offered for safe crossing:
• Approach with care. Warn others that you are slowing down. Turn on four-way flashers and use a pull-out lane, if available.
• Prepare to stop. Turn off fans and radios and roll down windows. Locate your cell phone for use in case of an emergency. Stop at least 15 feet from the nearest rail.
• Carefully look both ways. Bend forward to see around mirrors and A-pillars.
• If it won’t fit, don’t commit. Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least three feet on each side. Remember that your vehicle and cargo overhang.
• Cross tracks with care. Signal, watch for a safe gap and pull back onto the road if you used a pull-out lane.
• Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.
Those caught in a stalled vehicle on the tracks are advised to get out immediately, move away and call 911 immediately to report a vehicle on the tracks.
Operation Lifesaver has state coordinators in 49 states. For more information on the organization, visit www.oli.org.
The group’s efforts follow the Tuesday death of one person killed after a train crashed into a tractor in northeast Arkansas. Arkansas State Police said the driver of the tractor was killed and three people on the train suffered minor injuries. The crash happened in Waldenburg near U.S. 49. Authorities say the crossing does not have railroad signals.
The last reported train-related injury in Conway was four years ago, according to data by the Department of Transportation. There are about a dozen intersections inside Conway’s city limits, and almost all of them are guarded with lowering gates.
(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1277.)
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