National safety campaign stresses railway crossing safety

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railway crossings westfield.jpg

WESTFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a rail crossing safety campaign urging Americans to be more careful at railway crossings. 

In a news release sent to 22News, The U.S. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration has relaunched its $5.6 million public safety awareness campaign, “Stop. Trains Can’t.” campaign to remind people to never drive around a lowered crossing gate.

In 2018 270 people were killed at railroad crossings in the U.S. and 99 died after the driver went around a lowered crossing gate.

Barbara Thomas of Westfield told 22News, “People just don’t care sometimes, you know? They have to start wising up.”

A viewer sent us a video of drivers going around a lowered crossing gate last month in West Springfield. According to the DOT, this is dangerous because it takes a train more than a mile to stop, even when emergency brakes are applied.

There are a few crossings in western Massachusetts with no crossing gate, like Springdale Road in Westfield. 

DJ Rodriguez works in Westfield and told 22News there should a hazard trip right there.

“The arms should come down to warn people a train is coming because you don’t really hear those things coming until they blow the horn.”

Conductors legally have to blow a horn when approaching a crossing, but drivers have to yield to trains.

The DOT says drivers should slow down and use your eyes and ears to make sure it’s safe to cross. 

The crossing at Birnie Road in Longmeadow also doesn’t have a crossing gate and it’s the same spot where an Amtrak train hit and killed a Longmeadow DPW worker in 2017.

MassDOT and Amtrak are now installing new gates and warning lights there. 

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