Alabama Operation Lifesaver Rail Safety Tour visits Montevallo

From left, Montevallo Deputy Fire Marshal Jonathan Danzer, Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost, Alabama Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Nancy Hudson and Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton pose for a photo in city hall after the AL OL Rail Safety Tour visited Montevallo on June 21. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

From left, Montevallo Deputy Fire Marshal Jonathan Danzer, Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost, Alabama Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Nancy Hudson and Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton pose for a photo in city hall after the AL OL Rail Safety Tour visited Montevallo on June 21. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO–Approximately 25 Montevallo city employees filled city hall on Tuesday, June 21, to hear valuable safety information pertaining to railroad tracks, crossings and collision prevention as part of the Alabama Operation Lifesaver Rail Safety Tour.

AL OL is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, and in honor of the achievement, the program is traveling to 40 different cities around the state of Alabama to raise awareness through a public safety program dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights-of-way.

Nancy Hudson, executive director of Alabama Operation Lifesaver, has served in her current position for the past 19 years and was in Montevallo for the Rail Safety Tour.

When asked if doing the Rail Safety Tour meant preventing one person from having an accident, Hudson said, “it’s worth all the effort.”

“The X shaped cross buck sign at the crossing should be treated like a yield sign,” said Hudson. “The new slogan is see tracks, think train. Alabama is No. 6 in the nation for vehicle train collisions and we’re No. 14 for fatalities in those collisions.”

The state of Alabama has approximately 3,500 miles of tracks and more than 6,000 grade crossings, according to AL OL.

Montevallo Deputy Fire Marshal Jonathan Danzer attended the program and said that distracted driving also plays a role in many railroad track collisions.

“The big thing in any driving program or anything that you do is distracted driving and that plays a part into those collisions,” said Danzer. “People aren’t paying attention, are distracted or thinking about other stuff that’s going on and it kind of leads to a lot of these collisions. The biggest thing is see track, think train and that’s one of the spotlights of the program. People take it for granted when they cross railroad tracks on a regular basis and they don’t think about railroad tracks or trains.”

Alabama Operation Lifesaver, Inc. is a nonprofit public safety program that was established in 1976.

Between 1976-1985, 2,850 collisions, fatalities and injuries occurred at highway-rail grade crossings in Alabama. Between 2006-2015 that number has dropped to 896 in a span of 40 years, but Alabama still ranks near the top in the U.S. for incidents despite the declining numbers.

Later in the year, the Rail Safety Tour will make another stop in Shelby County when the program visits Alabaster.

For more information on Alabama Operation Lifesaver or the 40-city Rail Safety Tour visit Alol.org.