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March/April 2017 Issue

Use caution at railroad crossings

Although vehicle-train collisions and deaths at highway-rail grade crossings have generally declined over the last 10 years, several Southern states are among those with the highest number of deaths.

From January through October 2016, the most recent statistics available, 11 people died in collisions at railroad crossings in Arkansas, up from four in the same period of 2015. In Mississippi, seven people were killed in those 10 months compared to one in 2015. And six people died in Louisiana, which was down from eight who perished in that same period of 2015.

Nationwide, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours.

The U.S. Department of Transportation launched its “Stop! Trains Can’t” campaign this year aimed especially at young male motorists to make the right choice at rail crossings.

By law, trains always have the right of way because they cannot swerve, stop quickly, or change directions to avert collisions. A freight train traveling at 55 mph takes a mile – the length of 15 football fields – to come to a stop even with the emergency brake applied.

Operation Lifesaver, which is dedicated to railway safety, offers tips to keep motorists safe:

  • Never drive around lowered railroad gates
  • Never race a train to the crossing
  • Proceed through a crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear it without stopping
  • If your car stalls on the tracks, get out immediately and move away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming.

train train

A train traveling at 55 mph takes a mile or more to stop. nikolayshubin/


Vehicle repair with peace of mind

When you need vehicle repairs, count on our AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program to find facilities that meet and maintain AAA’s stamp of approval.

AAA members receive a number of benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions, and more. Among the latest shops to be added to the program are:

  • Terrebonne Lincoln at 1100 W. Tunnel Blvd. in Houma, La. Call (985) 876-5333.
  • Baxley’s Garage at 200 W. Long Hills Road in Benton, Ark. Call (501) 794-1541.

For details or to find a shop near you, call (800) 222-7623 ext. 1066821 or visit



Crash risk soars for drowsy drivers, AAA study finds

Most people know that driving while intoxicated can be deadly. However, few recognize that sleep deprivation can be just as dangerous – often impairing judgment and reducing reaction time as much as drugs and alcohol.

According to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report, drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period nearly double their risk for a crash. The danger more than quadruples for drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep. This is the same crash risk the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration associates with driving over the legal limit for intoxication.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35 percent of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily. With drowsy driving involved in more than one in five fatal crashes on U.S. roadways, AAA warns drivers that getting less than seven hours of sleep may have deadly consequences.

“You cannot miss sleep and still expect to safely function behind the wheel,” said AAA Foundation Executive Director Dr. David Yang. “A driver who has slept less than five hours has a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk.”

Another study by the AAA Foundation found that while most people view drowsy driving as an unacceptable and unsafe behavior, they still admit to doing so. Nearly one in three drivers said that at least once in the past month, they got behind the wheel when they were so tired they struggled to keep their eyes open.

Symptoms of drowsy driving can include drifting from lanes and not being able to remember the last few miles driven. However, more than half of drivers involved in fatigue-related crashes experienced no symptoms before falling asleep. AAA urges drivers to not rely on their bodies for warning signs of fatigue and should instead prioritize getting at least seven hours of sleep a day.

“Failing to maintain a healthy sleep schedule could mean putting yourself or others at risk,” said AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Director Jake Nelson.


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