Silver Bow Kiwanis

Silver Bow Kiwanis Kiwanis Club Meeting, Aug 7, '12

12:00-1:00 Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Larger map and driving directions

Butte Perkins
2900 Harrison Ave.
Butte, MT 59701

Tim introduced his guest and former member (looking to join again), Clair Little of the Salvation Army.

Dr. Sheraman, who was DJ's guest last week returned - with his completed application. The board will consider his application at the September meeting.

Lee reminded us all that the Family Picnic is coming up on the 28th. It's at the new Mountain Con park. Keith will have sign-up sheets to pass around starting next week. We need to know how many you're bringing, and it is nice to see if you plan to bring a desert or a side.

Then Lee introduced our speaker, Bernie Shelton. In addition to his activities with Operation Lifesaver promoting railroad safety, Bernie is also technical director for the Montana Folk Festival every summer.

Avoidable railroad fatalities happen every day. Operation Lifesaver takes a three-pronged approach to reduce these numbers: Education, Engineering, and Enforcement.

A lot of people end up at risk because they do not understand train dynamics. Among the important things to be aware of is that a train does not have a steering wheel - the train goes where the tracks send it. The train cannot swerve to try to miss you or your vehicle. When you couple that with the fact that the stopping distance for a loaded freight train traveling at 55 MPH is roughly one mile, the train doesn't have time to stop once the engineer sees you on the track.

A 12 ounce soda can has as much chance of surviving being struck by a car as a car has being struck by a train - that's how much difference there is in the mass of the objects.

The rails are 4'8" apart, but the train can overhang that on either side by as much as three feet. In addition, there is the possibility of loose cargo, damaged straps, or other objects that could be hanging out beyond that three-foot mark. Always leave plenty of space between you (or your vehicle) and the tracks when you have to stop at a crossing.

There are three varieties of crossings. The two most common are Passive crossings and active crossings.

Passive crossings are where there's just a crossbuck sign, or a crossbuck sign coupled with a stop sign or yield sign. Remember, the regular black and white crossbuck sign is also a yield sign unless it is accompanied with a stop sign.

Active crossings have at least lights, but may also have gates. When the lights are flashing or on solid, or when the gates are down - that is a stop sign. Do not enter the tracks, do not attempt to get past the gates. It is very likely that you will be hit by a train if you do so, and you then turn what could be a couple minutes of delay in your day to several hours of delay in the day of everyone at the crossing. Not to mention that you could be liable for damages to the tracks, gates, and train - as well as damages to the cargo or costs of delay of the cargo. It's not worth it to try to beat the train.

Also at any crossing in the US, there will be a blue sign with the crossing ID and the phone number to call if there is an emergency and trains need to be slowed or rerouted.

The third type of crossing is a silent crossing. At these crossings, trains do not need to blow their horn before approaching the crossing, but there are better gates and other restraints. These crossings are very expensive to install, so there aren't many of them - especially in Montana.

Drivers need to be aware that from a car it is very difficult to judge the speed of an oncoming train. If a train is coming, wait for it to pass.

Also, don't stop on the tracks, don't pass when crossing tracks, don't shift when crossing the tracks, and don't go around gates to get past a blocked crossing.

If your vehicle is stopped on the tracks due to an accident or mechanical problem, get out of the vehicle and make sure you are clear of the tracks and the possible overhang from the train. Then call for help. Also locate the blue crossing identification sign and call the number posted on the sign and report the emergency situation.

If you are stuck on the tracks and there is a train coming, get out of the vehicle and head at an angle away from the tracks and toward the oncoming train. When the train strikes an object on the tracks, the object (and other debris) will be flung in the direction the train is traveling, and you do not want to be in the path of that debris (which may include your car!).

Remember, the railroad is private property, and you can be charged with trespassing if you are on the tracks or along the tracks - even if there is not a train present or approaching. Despite evidence in movies, there is not room under a train for you to avoid injury, nor is there room in a tunnel or on a bridge for you to be beside the train.

Remember to be safe around trains and rail road crossings.

Bernie Shelton, Railroad Safety
French Dip and Fries
Event Updated
3:51 Tuesday, August 7, 2012