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January/February 2017 Issue

Use caution at railroad crossings

Although vehicle-train collisions and deaths at highway-rail grade crossings fell in 2015, several Midwestern states were among those with the highest number of deaths, including Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. crossing collisions fell by 10 percent in 2015 to 2,059 from 2,291 in 2014. Also, crossing-related deaths dropped 7.6 percent to 244. However, the number of people killed while trespassing on train tracks rose by 7.6 percent in 2015 to 512.
Among the 15 states with the most crossing collision deaths were California (32), Illinois (24), Texas (19), Louisiana (13), and Indiana (12). Missouri ranked ninth on the list with eight fatalities.
Operation Lifesaver, which is dedicated to reducing collisions and deaths at highway-rail crossings and on railroad tracks, cautions motorists and pedestrians to always think train when they see tracks. Other safety tips include:

  • Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly, and any approaching train is always closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Never drive around lowered railroad gates.
  • Never race a train to the crossing.
  • Never walk on tracks. It is illegal and highly dangerous.
  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out immediately and move away quickly from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming.



Take off your glasses when you say “cheese”

Customers applying for or renewing their passport now must remove their glasses for their passport photo under a new policy released by the U.S. Department of State.

In 2015, more than 200,000 passport customers submitted poor quality photos the State Department couldn’t accept. The main problem involved glasses, which can cause glare on the lens, create shadows on faces, or block the eyes. Travelers who have glasses on in the photos in their unexpired passports are not required to get a new passport, but upon renewal they must have a new photo.

AAA offers passport photos at full-service branch offices. The cost is $5 plus tax for Classic members, $14 plus tax for non-members, and free for AAA Plus and Premier members. For an office near you, visit


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