Our Opinion: Renewed emphasis on safety at rail crossings

We’ve been down this track before, but two recent news stories prompt renewed emphasis on safety at railroad crossings.

First, representatives from the state Highway Patrol, Missouri Operation Lifesaver and other agencies will be visiting with motorists Thursday at rail crossing in four Central Missouri counties.

Second, an area man died this week in a collision involving the pickup he was driving and a train in the 1700 block of Industrial Drive.

Two years ago in this forum, we wrote: “Although motorists can break the law, they can’t break the laws of physics.”

That observation was based on a lesson plan — Train vs. Car: Who Wins? — made available by Operation Lifesaver, an education and awareness program dedicated to ending collisions at rail crossings.

The lesson revealed:

• Most locomotives weigh between 125-225 tons.

• The ratio of an average freight train (8,000 tons) to an automobile is about 4,000:1.

• The laws of momentum show an 8,000 ton-train traveling at 50 mph would have a momentum of 400,000 tons mph. For a car to have the same momentum, it would have to travel 200,000 mph, or an impossible 265 times the speed of sound.

Operation Lifesaver teams will visit briefly Thursday with motorists approaching railroad crossings in Cole, Moniteau, Boone and Audrain counties.

The teams will include state and local law enforcement officers, Operation Lifesaver volunteers and representatives of Union Pacific Railroad, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

We encourage area motorists to be attentive and courteous when visiting with Operation Lifesaver teams.

The intent is not to cause frustration or inconvenience; it is to offer lifesaving reminders.

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