Photo by Steven Vance via Flickr
announced that it will conduct Operation Lifesaver Safety Blitzes at 45 train stations across the six-county region in 2016 as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of safe behavior around its trains and tracks.
During a safety blitz, Metra safety employees will distribute educational materials about train and grade crossing safety, answer questions and listen to safety concerns from commuters at one of the railroad’s 241 train stations during the morning commute. A short video about grade crossing safety is also available for viewing by customers while they wait for their train. Local police and fire officials are also invited to participate.
"These safety blitzes allow us to reach pedestrians and drivers in a targeted, hands-on way to ensure that we all stay vigilant about safety around the railroad," said Don Orseno, Metra executive director/CEO.
Illinois has the second-largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings. Last year, Illinois ranked second in the nation in highway-rail fatalities with 24.5% of vehicle/train collisions occurring at crossings with active warning devices including lights, gates and bells. Illinois also had the third-highest number of rail crossing collisions (140, behind Texas and California), the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24, behind California) and the third-highest number of rail crossing injuries (79, behind Texas and North Carolina).
To help promote rail safety awareness and eliminate preventable injuries and deaths, Metra develops an annual schedule of safety blitzes throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
The intent of the safety blitz program is primarily educational. However, Metra, through its Police Department, will also conduct additional enforcement blitzes at locations throughout the region where citations and warnings are issued to pedestrians and drivers who ignore gates and warning devices.
Metra also promotes safety through its annual Safety Poster and Essay Contest for the region’s schoolchildren and by conducting nearly 1,000 free Operation Lifesaver presentations annually to schools, community groups, school bus drivers, professional truck drivers, emergency responders and other organizations throughout the region.
Operation Lifesaver is a national organization that works to educate and promote safe behavior near the tracks by offering free rail safety education programs. The organization’s work is co-sponsored by local, state and federal government agencies, highway safety organizations and America's railroads.