North American railroads and Operation Lifesaver are recognizing Rail Safety Week to slow rail injuries and fatalities.
Most train-related injuries occur at road crossings or involve individual citizens walking too close to tracks. Since 2013, 4,615 people have died due to a crossing incident or trespassing on railroad property, including tracks. Thousands more have been injured.
Since 1972, there has been an 83% decline in train/vehicle collisions – down from 12,000 to only 2,100 in 2021. Deaths from people walking on or near tracks remained largely the same from 2010-2021. Most, if not all, of these incidents, are preventable.
“Every collision at a grade crossing and on the railroad tracks is preventable,” said Sean Douris, chief of police, public safety and infrastructure protection. “…Rail Safety Week offers the opportunity for us to encourage motorists and pedestrians in communities along our network to remain alert around tracks and to take the necessary precautions to stay safe.”
To help communities stay safe, Norfolk Southern is offering three tips for the public to stay safe near railroad tracks:
- Always stop and look at railroad crossings to be sure a train is not approaching.
- Railroad tracks are never a safe place to walk, so keep a safe distance – and they are never a safe place to take pictures.
- Whenever you see tracks, think train – trains can be quieter than expected.
“This Rail Safety Week we are offering three ways our fellow community members can stay safe near railroad tracks,” said Helen Hart, Norfolk Southern’s assistant vice president of safety & environmental. “When you’re driving, be sure to look both ways; if you’re on foot, stay a safe distance from tracks; and always assume a train may be approaching anytime you’re near the rails.”
Amtrak Police, Operation Lifesaver, law enforcement and first responders are participating in “Operation Clear Track.” The representatives report to high-incident railroad grade crossings in various locations, share safety tips, enforce crossing and trespassing laws and write citations and warnings to violators.
“According to the Federal Railroad Administration, trespassing on the railroad right-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America,” Amtrak Chief of Police D. Samuel Dotson said. “These incidents serve as critical reminders about the importance of obeying the law and exercising extreme caution around railroad tracks and crossings. In an effort to save lives and keep communities safe, we continue to work closely on Operation Clear Track to emphasize the importance of obeying the law and the dangers of ignoring warnings at rail crossings.”