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No horsing around: Operation Lifesaver promotes crossing safety to equestrian set

When you think about the potential victim of a grade crossing accident, a motorist or truck driver comes to mind. But a horse?

Yet, a collision between a train and horse tow vehicle or trailer at a crossing often causes a horse fatality, according to USRider, which provides nationwide roadside assistance to equestrians.

So, USRider has teamed up with Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) to develop a crossing safety brochure for trailer/vehicle drivers and horse-riding enthusiasts. Unveiled earlier this month, the “Railroad Crossing Tips for Equestrians” brochure can be downloaded from OLI’s ( or USRider’s ( Web site.

USRider recently studied more than 400 horse trailer accidents and determined an “inordinate number” of gooseneck trailers got stuck at crossings. Nearly all of the incidents resulted in a human or horse fatality.

Tips cited in the brochure strongly suggest tow vehicle or trailer drivers leave at least 15 feet between their vehicle and the crossing because trains overhang track by three feet; pause if they see a train because trains might be closer than they appear and it could take longer than expected for their vehicle to clear the tracks; and never assume tracks no longer are being used, even if foliage is growing between the rails.

The brochure also provides safety tips for people riding horses near or over tracks.

OLI data shows a vehicle or person is hit by a train every two hours, on average, in the United States Although horseback riders and trailer drivers represent a small percentage of people who come into contact with crossings, OLI is being proactive by working with USRider to target a safety message at equestrians.

To stay true to its namesake, Operation Lifesaver needs to keep reaching out to organizations and interest groups that might not be familiar with railroad operations at crossings — and the risks associated with trying to outrun a train or ignoring warning signs and signals.

Posted by: Jeff Stagl | Date posted: 7/22/2008

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Posted by Gary Hyser on 8/4/2008 2:21:38 PM

Great article, we need more of this kind of support for Operation Lifesaver.

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Posted by michael willis on 8/19/2008 3:06:16 PM

TOTAL GRADE SEPARATION is the only solution... People may squawk at the cost, but it must be a priority for a smooth, safe & faster flow of all surface road & rail traffic...

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