ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Although AAA projectsthat slightly fewer people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, the auto club expects 43.4 million people in the United States to go at least 50 miles from home on turkey day — 90 percent of them by automobile. National rail safety nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) is encouraging motorists to play it safe at grade crossings as they go.
“Slow down when you approach an intersection between the roadway and train tracks,” said Joyce Rose, OLI’s president and CEO.
“Look both ways and prepare to stop. If a train has passed by, look again before you cross. Another train can approach from the opposite direction and could have been blocked from your sight by the first train.”
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, and that often comes with the distinction of more drivers being involved in an incident at a grade crossing.
“Although over the past four decades, incidents at grade crossings have dramatically declined, we are now seeing more people driving distracted by electronic devices, which pulls their attention from the roadway and the warning signs that alert them that a train might be coming,” said Rose. “And of course, everyone’s in a hurry so some try to beat the train across. Don’t do it! Your life is worth the wait.”
Trains always have the right-of-way, even over emergency vehicles. The average freight train, traveling at just 55 mph, can take more than a mile to come to a stop.
“You are not an exception to this rule. We all have so much to be thankful for in this holiday season. Enjoy your time with friends and family and make it back home, safely,” said Rose.