According to a Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit that focuses on rail safety across the country, there were 305 deaths at highway-rail grade crossings nationwide in 2007. Mansfield, Norton, and Foxboro have closet to 20 highway-rail grade crossings and those communities have recently experienced tragic train accidents, so state Rep. Jay Barrwos, of Mansfield, and Rep. Betty Poirier, of North Attleboro, teamed up to sponsor a train safety seminar with Operation Lifesaver.
The seminar was held at the Mansfield Public Library and emphasized the importance of being aware when trains are crossing. Look, listen, live. According to Ed O’Connor, the Massachusetts coordinator for Operation Lifesaver, a freight train rolling over a mid-sized sedan can have the same impact on the sedan that a sedan would have running over a 12-ounce soda can. O’Connor added that drivers and pedestrians should not assume that the train will run according to schedule.
All highway-rail grade crossing have signs on the roadside and pavement, but those signs are often overlooked. “Active” crossings ring a bell, flash lights, and block access with a gate when a train in approaching. Drivers who pass over the train tracks in front of an oncoming train incur a $250 fine, plus get $50 a year added to their driver’s insurance policy.