What the Dept. of Transportation is doing to make sure drivers stay safe at Ohio railroad crossings

Posted at 5:45 AM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 08:36:24-05

Railroad crossings can be dangerous, but in Ohio, many are deadly. When it comes to railroad crossings, Ohio is the sixth deadliest state in the U.S.

The federal government has taken notice too. A powerful new advertisement, made by the Department of Transportation is airing in just a handful of states, the deadliest when it comes to railroad crossings, one of which is Ohio.

The video starts with the narrator saying, “If you think trains will stop if they see a car on the tracks…”

The spot shows an SUV being taken out by a freight train and cautions drivers, if they see a train coming, don’t cross. It takes roughly a mile for a fast moving train to come to a complete stop.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 12 of 244 railroad crossing fatalities in the U.S. in 2016 happened in Ohio, making the Buckeye State the sixth deadliest in the country when it comes to crossings.

“Of course things, if they go wrong, they go horribly wrong with a train, car or train, pedestrian accident, so we work very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Mayor Mike Summers (D – Lakewood).

Lakewood has one of the highest concentrations of crossings in the state — 27 over its short three-mile stretch.

“Today we worry mostly and more than ever about distracted drivers. There’s a lot going on in the car today besides driving and if someone’s not paying attention, they could put themselves in a very dangerous place and put many others in danger too,” said Summers.

In 2013, the state passed a law that exempted trains from having to sound their horns at private railroad crossings. Less than two weeks after that law went into effect, 15 year old Sierra Thompson, died when a train collided with her car at an unmarked, private rail crossing in Ravenna.

One way to make these crossings totally safe is to get rid of them, by building over or underpasses. That, of course, takes time, a lot of money, and patience, something not many states or cities have.