New campaign urges drivers to pay attention at Edinburgh railroad crossings

EDINBURGH, Ind. --  A tragic accident in Edinburgh is promoting change.

In November, 74-year-old Sharon Gobin was killed when her car collided with a train. Now, town leaders are pushing for more safety at railroad crossings.

Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann was nearby when the crash happened. He said he remembered the horrific events clearly.

"I recall hearing the train coming. I recall the horn as well as the sound," he said.

The woman's death left a small community in mourning and shock. Flowers still lay at the site where Gobin was killed.

The tragedy has empowered town leaders to come forward and educate drivers about safety around railroad crossings. CSX announced they would be increasing both train traffic and train speed in the area.

"With the increased traffic, we believe that it increases the danger somewhat to our folks here," said Mann.

Recent upgrades to the railroad have allowed trains to increase their speed limit from 25 mph to 49 mph, including through downtown Edinburgh. Over the last two years, several mayors and community leaders have tried to get the federal government to force the railroad to pay for safety upgrades at crossings south of Indianapolis.

Chief Mann said adding a crossing arm would cost a quarter of a million dollars at each crossing. Those funds would have to come directly from taxpayers. Mann argued, though, that arms might not be enough. He said many crashes still happen because people drive around the crossing arms.

"I don't know that every intersection is ever going to be fully marked and at what point is enough, enough?" Mann asked.

In a new campaign called "See Tracks? Think Train," town leaders are encouraging drivers to pay close attention at railroad crossings. Mann said drivers should remember the old phrase; stop, look, and listen.

Town leaders have stickers, key chains, and car fresheners they'll hand out to residents during a blitz on Dec. 13. They're hoping it will serve as a reminder to drivers about both laws and safety. If approaching a railroad crossing that has lights flashing, drivers are required to stop, just like they would in a 4-way-intersection for flash red lights on a traffic light.

"I think if we can prevent an accident from occurring, that's far better than investigating one that does happen," Mann said.

Railroad officials will also be joining town leaders during the blitz campaign.