Stay safe at rail crossings

Published 10:18 am Sunday, June 20, 2021

KILN, MISS. – June is National Safety Month, and Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission reminds motorists to be safe at railroad crossings this summer.

The commission owns and operates Port Bienville Railroad which has several public crossings in and around the port on Lower Bay Road.

“Safety is our top priority and everyone’s responsibility,” said Shane LaFontaine, Port Bienville Railroad Manager. “The decisions you make have an impact on your safety and the safety of others. This is especially true for drivers at railroad crossings.”

Nationwide, collisions and injuries happen every day at rail crossings. Most of these incidents are preventable.

Motorists should always expect a train at every rail crossing. Drivers can help keep themselves and others safe by remembering:

  • Stop, look both ways and listen. Remember that trains always have the right of way.
  • Make sure you have room to cross. Once you enter the crossing, keep moving.
  • Stop 15 feet away from flashing red lights, lowered gates, a signaling flagman or a stop sign.
  • Never try to drive around a lowering gate. Never ignore signals, and always use caution.
  • Before you begin to cross, wait for gates to fully rise and for all lights to stop flashing.
  • Never assume that there is only one train coming from a single direction.
  • If your car stalls on a rail track, quickly get everyone out – even if you don’t see a train coming. Then, move away from the tracks and your car. Avoid running in the same direction that the train is coming, because you could be hit by flying debris if a train hits your car. When it’s safe to do so, call the number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign. If the sign is not visible to you, call 911.

“Thankfully, we have a good safety record at Port Bienville Railroad, and we want to keep it that way. By staying aware and alert, drivers can help everyone remain safe at rail crossings,” LaFontaine said.

Connecting the port to CSX, Port Bienville Railroad boasts 17 miles of track and processes over 8,000 loaded railcars a year. The port is home to 16 tenants employing nearly 600 people and generates nearly $10 million in ad valorem revenue for the county each year.