Elementary students learn railroad safety

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - More kids will cross over train tracks as they bike or walk to school in the warm weather, and one group taught them to do so safely.

A group of first graders at Jefferson Elementary learned all about railroad safety Tuesday.

"Stay away from the tracks. You can get hit. Don't throw stuff at the tracks or you can get hurt," said Karim Magallan, a first grade student at Jefferson Elementary.

A volunteer from Operation Lifesaver taught the kids what signs to look for, and what to do when they approach a crossing.

"You should stop, and find one of those lines and go behind one of those," said Karen Mazariegos, first grade student.

Students also learned to never play near on or around the tracks, and to look for the blue signs with a number to call in case of emergencies.

In Grand Island, trains rush by at 50 mph.

The crossing along Broadwell Avenue is the main concern for kids at Jefferson. They all live around that track, which is the most busy and dangerous one in Grand Island. There's been several reported incidents there.

"If you think about it, Grand Island is a huge crossroads for railroad tracks and railroad crossings," said Shane Campbell, the school counselor at Jefferson. "When I think about it, I cross over railroad tracks at least ten times a day. This is a big part of our life here in Grand Island, and it's very important for our kids to do it safely."

Your average car weights 4,000 times the amount of an aluminum can. That weight ratio is proportionate to that of a train and car. We all know how easy it is to crush an aluminum can.

More than 800 people died in train-related incidents across the United States last year. There's been one fatality in Nebraska this year.

Deb Ashworth, the volunteer teaching the class Tuesday, said her best advice for people is to always look for the yellow railroad warning sign.

"It is telling you that there's railroad tracks ahead. It's an advance warning sign. You need to know if you see tracks, be thinking trains," Ashworth said.

There's almost 90 volunteers with Operation Lifesaver across Nebraska. They'll teach the class for free to anyone who's interested.

You can visit https://oli.org/ for more information.