|By Lisa Mussman|
Public Affairs Manager
It happens almost every three hours in the United States: a person or vehicle is hit by a train. And while these incidents affect different families, communities and train crews, they share one thing in common – nearly all of them could have been prevented.
Nearly 2,100 people are killed each year in train-vehicle collisions or by illegally walking, playing or taking photos on or near train tracks. To help raise awareness about train and track safety, Kansas is joining state and local agencies across the country to observe Rail Safety Week from Sept. 22-28.
Rail Safety Week was created in 2017 by Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other organizations in response to a need for rail safety education and to empower the general public to stay safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way. Different rail safety messages will be delivered throughout the week and OLI will also be sharing stories from its #STOPTrackTragedies public awareness campaign, which highlights the personal stories of those affected by rail incidents.
In 2018, Kansas had 14 rail-related fatalities, with 11 of them being trespass casualties. While those numbers decreased from the previous year, the total number of rail crossing collisions remained the same at 34.
OLI offers the following rail safety tips for drivers and pedestrians:
• Look and listen for trains when approaching all railroad crossings – obey all signs, warning lights and gates
• Trains are quieter and faster than you think – never try to beat a train!
• It can take up to a mile or more for trains to stop because of their size and weight – avoid distractions when approaching crossings
• Always expect a train on any track, in any direction – any time is train time
• Rail property is private property – walking, playing and taking photos on tracks is illegal and dangerous
For more information on Rail Safety Week and the #StopTrackTragedies campaign, visit www.oli.org.