Railway safety tips to make sure everyone’s lives stay on track

There have been 2 deadly train collisions in Portage Co. since May
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation there have been an average of 40 train vs. car crashes each year over the past three years in the state.

With more than 4,200 public railroad crossings in Wisconsin, there are a lot of chances that one of those incidents could involve you.

“In the state of Wisconsin in the last three years we have kind of stayed pretty much even, it’s been between 40 to 41 crashes in those three years,” said Koerner. Despite Train crossings, bars, and warning lights.

There have been two deadly train collisions in Portage County since May. One in the Village of Junction City and the other in the Township of Carson.

“The thing is the tracks and rails are now welded, not bolted together, so everything makes it quiet,” Gary Koerner said, State Coordinator for Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver. “So a lot of times a train can kind of sneak up on you and if you’re walking and looking at your phone, a lot of times you can’t hear that train until its too late.”

Koerner added that people should also be sure to not trespass at rail crossings such as when a person is either intentionally or unintentionally standing or walking on train tracks.

“It’s illegal, It’s private property, plus it can be very hazardous trespassing on railroad property,” said Koerner.

It can take up to a mile for a train to stop.

“When you come to a crossing, make sure there isn’t a train coming,” Koerner said. “If the lights are flashing, gates are starting to come down, that’s not the time to speed up and try to get through the crossing because it could be dangerous. We don’t want that to happen, so the big thing is if you see the lights and see the gates stop and wait for the train.”

Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization that provides public education programs with the goal of preventing collisions, injuries, and deaths on and around railroad tracks.

“Put that distraction away and remember you can stop track tragedies,” said Koerner.