Railway safety: stop, look, and listen

JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - A deadly crash in Jackson County, Illinois is a tragic reminder about railway safety.

Cody Robertson, 18, of Marion was killed on Nov. 1 when investigators say he did not yield to a train at a railroad crossing.

Illinois is second in the nation when it comes to the number of railway crossings. It's also in the top five for the most crashes, injuries, and deaths.

According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the railway crossing where Robertson was killed goes "beyond the requirements" for a private crossing. It has the cross bucks, a yield sign and even a blue ENS sign for emergencies. However, people are still not obeying the signs.

Driver Michael Garnier, honestly and candidly admitted to not stopping at the railroad crossing.

"I just went on across – twice! Went across and came on back. I didn't pay no attention. I didn't," said Garnier. "Never. I didn't look today. I looked at you and these trucks… but I went on across."

According to Chip Pew with the Illinois Commerce Commission, people still disobey the lights, bells and even gates at railroad crossings.

"Over 50% of all those collisions that occur, occur at those crossings that have active warning devices (like you just said lights bells and gates), generally people just ignore them…trains are unforgiving. They'll play no favorites. And if anybody puts themselves in a position for a train to hit them, more than likely they are not going to get a 2nd chance," Pew explained.

Garnier wants other drivers to hear this: "Come across very slowly and pay attention both ways. But until now and this conversation with you, I never gave it a second thought. I just come on cross and go where I'm going, like most people do…that does make it right because I did it that way. But I know I'm not the only one doing it that way at this place."

Pew said that Amtrak train weighs about one million pounds, where they an average car is only three thousand pounds, so he strongly encourages drivers to obey the signs.

Operation Lifesaver, Inc., an organization that focuses on rail safety education, has this advice: "see tracks? think train!"

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2017 KFVS. All rights reserved.