STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.
The driver of a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer collided with an eastbound train on Wednesday, August 10, marking the fifth of these types of accidents this year and the second crash between a train and a car this month.
The Vidalia Police Department was dispatched to the scene of the accident at 9:36 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the intersection of Rigsbee Drive and Old Vidalia-Lyons Road.
According to the preliminary investigation by the Georgia State Patrol Post 18-Reidsville (GSP), the driver of the Blazer was traveling southbound on Rigsbee Drive approaching the Georgia Highway 30 crossing. The train was moving westbound along the tracks and struck the vehicle driver’s side as the Blazer pulled continued from page
onto the tracks. The driver of the Blazer, a male who was not named by authorities, was transported to a medical facility to be checked for injuries. The incident is continuing to be investigated by the GSP. Uptick in Train-Vehicle Mishaps According to local law enforcement, accidents involving motorists and trains are increasing in the area. Vidalia Police Chief James Jermon said, “There are more train versus vehicle wrecks within our city limits than I can remember prior.”
Jermon says that the increased number of crashes could be caused by several factors. “The biggest contributing factor is drivers being distracted,” he explained. “Also, some believe they can beat the train [to avoid waiting for it to pass] and some can be reckless by being impatient and going around the crossing arm.”
The City of Lyons is also experiencing accidents involving trains and motor vehicles, as the most recent occurred on Oxley Drive on July 7. Lyons Police Department Chief Wesley Walker also spoke on the recent occurrences. “I have seen an uptick in the number of accidents between trains and motor vehicles, and I think it’s because drivers are not paying attention at railroad crossings.”
Walker explained that drivers are distracted by other things, such as cell phones, and are not focusing on defensive driving. He said that the LPD has worked throughout the past three years to advocate for train crossing safety through their “Operation Clear Track” campaign, which is sponsored by Amtrack. In this campaign, the LPD hands out cards that share a list of safety suggestions for crossing the train tracks.
According to Walker, the biggest problem he sees is that drivers stop on the tracks when traffic backs up from stop signs located along the tracks. He said people have a tendency to close the gap between them and the vehicle in front of them, causing their vehicle to block the crossing.
Jermon and Walker shared similar safety tips for the public to utilize to ensure safety when crossing the railroad tracks: Approach intersections between roadways and railways with care and prepare to stop Look both ways multiple times and listen carefully before crossing the tracks. “If it doesn’t fit, don’t commit.” Avoid getting your vehicle stuck across the tracks between other vehicles when waiting for traffic to clear.