Pay attention. If you don’t around RT trains, you may pay with your life

With the release of new statistics that show a total of 125 reportable incidents involving light-rail trains the past three years, transit officials are cautioning drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to watch out.

The statistics from Sacramento Regional Transit reinforce the thought behind a railroad slogan: “See tracks? Think train!”

Reportable incidents to the Federal Transit Administration include derailments, evacuations for safety, injuries to two or more people requiring medical treatment and crashes.

Wendy Williams, RT spokeswoman, said the transit district’s reportable collisions broke down this way: 17 involved bicycles versus trains, 68 vehicles versus trains and 26 pedestrians versus trains.

“The incidents were avoidable,” she said. “They ran into our train or got in the way. Remember, we are on a guided route.”

Of the 125 incidents, there were 11 fatalities during the three-year period. A total of 85 of the 125 incidents occurred in the central business district and 82 happened at grade crossings where trains cross over roadways.

Trains are sometimes traveling at 55 mph on the district’s 43 miles of tracking, requiring 600 feet or more to stop. Williams said people should be especially aware at places where trains cross roads.

“We see so many people with their heads down looking at cellphones,” she said. “Be sure to look both ways.”

Also, she said, stay behind the bumpy, plastic yellow tiles at stations. RT serves 100,000 passengers each day, half of that on trains the other half on buses.

“The trains are 80,000 pounds of solid-built American steel versus a 170-pound human being,” she said. “It is important to remind people that trains can stop but not quickly.”

RT police Chief Lisa Hinz said when a car cuts in front of a train there is little time for a train operator to put on the brakes.

“Pay attention to surroundings,” she said. “People get distracted and misjudge the stopping distance required for trains and buses.”

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews