The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


May 7, 2014

Motorists’ death more likely in train crash than collision with other vehicle

ENID, Okla. — When you’re learning to drive, you’re taught to “look out for the other guy.”

However, the other guy isn’t always a car.

A motorist is nearly 20 times more likely to die in a train crash than in a collision with another vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

Tragic news hit home this week when a 26-year-old Enid man was killed after his vehicle was struck by a train.

Train conductors told police they saw the vehicle as they approached the crossing, but it did not slow down or stop.

The nonprofit Operation Lifesaver Inc. recently launched the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign aimed to reduce fatalities nationwide.

We sometimes see mixed messages in the media. For example, members of the Dauntless faction are seen jumping on and off of moving trains in “Divergent” on the big screen.

Although this film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s book is fantasy, reality is more sobering: A person or vehicle is hit by a train in the U.S. about every three hours.

“We want Americans to think about that statistic each time they approach a railroad crossing,” said Operation Lifesaver Inc. President Joyce Rose.

Enid Police Chief Brian O’Rourke, an Operation Lifesaver participant earlier this spring, said rail traffic is expected to increase in Enid, and the speeds of trains soon will increase, too.

“The engineers we spoke to are scared to death of people pulling out in front of them,” O’Rourke said last April.

O’Rourke said a six-axle engine weighs about 1 million pounds. Between a train and a car is a 4,000-to-1 crush factor.

“An engine and car equates to a person stepping on an aluminum can,” O’Rourke said earlier this spring.

Operation Lifesaver offers some wise driving tips: Alertly look and listen around the tracks.

The train you see is closer and faster than it appears.

Never drive around lowered gates, and don’t get trapped on the tracks. Remember, it takes a mile or more to stop a train.

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