Victim's Parents Lead Effort to Prevent Train Track Deaths

Vicky and Denny Moore's 16-year-old son Ryan Moore was killed at a dangerous Ohio train crossing.
6:49 | 03/14/15

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Transcript for Victim's Parents Lead Effort to Prevent Train Track Deaths
We're going to turn to another danger on America's roadways, we've all come to a train crossing. What happens if the warning are obscured? Here's Debra Roberts. Reporter: Admit it. You've probably thought about it -- maybe even done it. Despite the clanging bells and those Gates intended as barriers. An inner speed demon can take over -- rushing, scrambling, dodging -- all with one reckless idea, beating the oncoming train. The most common thing -- they don't want to wait, they go around the Gates. Reporter: Alan smith has seen it all. A fanatic for trains, he posts some of those daredevils on his youtube site, millennium force. Now, that's an . Reporter: All too often, the fast and the curious end up like this. Though these drivers survived, the videos all over the internet paint a dark picture. When a train hits a car, it's like a car hitting a soda can. Government statistics say trains collided with vehicles more than 2,000 times last year, nearly 250 people killed, another 1,000 injured. Many involved freight trains. Oh, damn! She's gonna hit a train. Reporter: Check out this car chase in Utah. Police couldn't stop this woman, but 8,000 tons of train did -- twice. She just hit the train. The train hit her. Reporter: Down in Houston, this daring driver makes a last ditch attempt to cross. And in Florida, this frantic conductor does his best to stop to no avail. The driver got out just in time. Your heart starts beating as the engineer throws the train into emergency. You just know there's going to be a collision. You sit there wondering, "Why didn't you pay attention to the Gates?" Reporter: It's an obvious question. But before you put the blame on clueless drivers, hit the brakes. Just ask Betsy Deval. Greer is just full of train tracks. Just full of them. Reporter: Still haunted by her accident. Though you'd never miss these tracks during daylight, at night here's what Betsy saw. Lost and confused, she got stuck on a crossing in rural South Carolina. No idea that a train was barreling down on her. With only seconds to flee, she froze. When I realized there was just no way my car was going to make it off those tracks, I think I panicked and went into shock. Reporter: A phenomenon called the freeze response -- a natural reaction where a person under duress is literally paralyzed by fear. Thankfully, a nearby police officer quickly came to her rescue. Just to think that in an instant my life could have been just taken without any warning. Thank you. You saved me. Reporter: And here in Tempe, Arizona, a train had just passed when Brandon Stovall started to drive across the tracks. He didn't see the second train coming. It was just like if someone were to walk next to your car and hit you with a baseball bat in the head. Reporter: He was cited for crossing before the arm was fully raised. But the real issue? There was a sensor on the track that stopped working which allowed the arms to raise up when a train was coming through the intersection and it should have been down. Reporter: A deadly yet common complaint. Gates should work like clockwork and stay down when trains are approaching. But Stovall has proof that doesn't always happen. He shot video two weeks later. The gate's down, the train passes. As soon as it raises again, another train. Malfunctioning signals are one thing. In other places, they're out of commission. They've installed a set of Gates and lights, but there's bags on top of the lights. Reporter: New lights that aren't activated? Unbelievable to Vicky and Denny Moore, who are determined to blow the whistle on faulty train crossings. As you can see, you've got all this vegetation and all these trees blocking a driver's view. And you're not required to stop at this crossing. It only says yield. And our contention has always been, how can you yield to something you can't see? Reporter: Which is exactly what happened to Vicky Moore's 17-year-old son Ryan, killed at this crossing, the second such death that month. The Moores were awarded $5 million from the train company, which put up these barriers and new signals. It looks perfectly safe. I get angry. I get angry when I come here now and I see these Gates. Why? Because had there been Gates that day that our kids came down that hill, the accident would have never happened. Reporter: Their millions went to a foundation, angels on track, which hopes to prevent other devastating train collisions -- an uphill battle, given that only 35% of crossings have flashing lights and Gates according to the government. I would think it's to the railroad company's advantage to have these things. I think they'd want these at every crossing. They're making less money. So, you're saying the railroad companies would just as soon not have all these Correct. The railroads share ownership with every crossing in this country. Why aren't they sharing responsibility for making sure that all these crossings are safe and protected with Gates? Reporter: A tangled web of bureaucracy that infuriates the Moores. So, when there are problems, who's to blame -- the rail lines or the government? You may not like the what this government funded safety advocate has to say. At every crossing there is a blue emergency notification sign and it has a 1-800 number. But if that gate malfunctioned and you were the one driving, kind of a little late to make a call. No, it isn't. Get away from the car, and find a way to contact the rail road and your local police. If you make it! Yes, if you make it. Reporter: Ultimately, your safety is up to you. So, drive carefully. And look both ways, so you don't

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