More Car Versus Train Cases Reported in West Texas

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - Officers said the number one factor is the rush to get going.

"This day, we've got so many people that are in a hurry," Midland Police Patrol Officer, Sgt. Craig Matthews, said. "They're trying to get where they're going."

Texting, driving distracted, driving drunk and simply wanting to shave time off the commute are all contributing factors in car and train collisions.

Two in West Texas happened just this week, one Wednesday night on Business 20 outside Jaguars Gold Club in Ector County and the other last Saturday on 1st and Crane in Odessa.

Not only that, Federal Railroad Association statistics show Texas leads the nation in railroad collisions.

Midland patrol officers say that needs to stop.

"It's very dangerous," Matthews said. "There's an enormous amount of force involved at a collision with a train. That force is so enormous that even if the train were going at a slow speed it's still going to cause tremendous amount of damage."

The passengers of both vehicles this past week escaped with their lives. Authorities said they're lucky. Matthews said he's seen a 200-ton train do much worse to cars in the past.

"Usually they don't look like cars anymore," Matthews said. "It's just a hunk of metal. Bits and pieces of metal strewn out over a half a mile. It's terrible, body parts strewn over a long area, which is certainly horrifying for anybody to come across."

According to information TXDOT sent the NewsWest 9 newsroom, it takes a 100-car train going 55 miles per hour more than a mile to stop.

Local patrol officers said people trying to jump the tracks can't tell how fast the train is going until it's too late.

"If that train's going 60 miles an hour, it may appear to be going quite slower than that," Matthews said. "So you might take a chance, try to beat it, and find out that you're not going to."

To make sure lives aren't lost racing trains, TXDOT sent NewsWest 9 this safety information.

The first it to keep an eye out every time you stop at a railroad crossing, checking for a train. They advise staying off your phone at a crossing so you're not distracted. They also said never park, stop or stand on a railroad.

Officer Matthews said keeping that eye out will mean the difference between life and death.

"You need to do exactly what they recommend: Stop, Look, and Listen," he said. "Make sure that there is or isn't a train coming."