Approximately once every three hours in the U.S., either a vehicle or a pedestrian is involved in a collision with a train. June is National Safety Month and Amtrak wants to take this opportunity to remind the public of the importance of railroad safety. Motorists and pedestrians can take action to prevent injuries and fatalities from occurring this summer, as a result of high-risk behavior on or near railroad crossings and tracks.
“The safety of our customers, employees and the public is Amtrak’s top priority,” said Amtrak President/CEO Richard Anderson. “When it comes to railroad safety, education and outreach are critical in raising public awareness to help save lives.”
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics reveal that in 2018, U.S. crossing collisions rose 4.3%, crossing deaths remained stationary and crossing injuries have decreased 2.9% since 2017. Total casualties, including deaths and injuries, resulting from rail trespassing incidents increased 2.8%; fatalities grew 12% and injuries fell 6.3% from their previous levels in 2017.
Amtrak is one of several partners with Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), the national, nonprofit safety education group working to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way. OLI offers programs in all 50 states and Canada, as well as trained volunteers who provide free safety presentations to community groups, school bus operators, truckers and student drivers to raise awareness of the dangers around railroad tracks and trains. OLI uses materials from their national public awareness campaign, “Stop Track Tragedies” to connect with the public at events and through poignant digital ads and videos.
Rail Safety Tips & Facts:
- Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine.
- The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate.
- A train traveling at 55 miles per hour can take approximately one mile, or the length of about 18 football fields to stop.
- Avoid walking, biking, or jogging on railroad tracks.
- Obey all warning signs and signals. Trains can come from either direction on the same track at any time and can be very quiet.
- Use of headsets, earbuds or cell phones around tracks can prevent a person from hearing an approaching train.
- Remember to always stop at railroad crossings and never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. In addition, there are substantial fines for attempting to go around the crossing arms.
- Report an emergency. A toll-free number is posted on every grade crossing for the public to contact a railroad to report problems.
- Report suspicious items, persons, or activity immediately to the Amtrak Police Department by approaching a uniformed officer, calling (800) 331-0008, sending a text to APD11 (27311), or by calling 911.
The Amtrak Police Department has a safety campaign called StayOffTheTracks.org and the Amtrak grade crossing safety video, “Cheating Death”, has been disseminated to driver’s education/CDL programs throughout U.S. with more than 3.6 million views. For more information on railroad safety, visit Operation Lifesaver or StayOffTheTracks.org.
Additionally, Amtrak is encouraging employees to participate in National Safety Month with company-wide initiatives including a Safety Video Challenge, recognition of “Safety All-Stars” with stories honoring employees or teams who perform exceptional work on safety and special content featured on internal communications channels to highlight workplace safety.