Alarmed by an increase in deadly incidents involving photography and railroad tracks, the national nonprofit rail safety education group Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) is releasing a new animated video public service announcement (VPSA) to raise awareness among professional photographers of the dangers of this trend. The VPSA is the first in a new series drawing attention to the illegal and dangerous activity of train track photos.
“Operation Lifesaver shares a growing concern about this deadly trend with our partners at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), who funded the video,” said OLI President/CEO Joyce Rose. “Five deaths have been attributed to photography and filming on U.S. railroad tracks to date this year, with 13 deaths and four injuries from these activities since 2011. With more train track photos being posted online each day, we fear that these preventable incidents will continue. This VPSA is part of our effort to engage with the photography community,” she stated.
Rose said the VPSA will be available on the OLI website, via social media and on the website for Operation Lifesaver’s ongoing “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign.
“Capturing what are supposed to be joyful moments and happy life events are too often becoming painful, heartbreaking tales for families and communities,” says Jamie Rennert, FRA’s highway-rail grade crossing safety task force lead. “Anyone considering a railroad track as a backdrop for any activity, especially photography, should think twice. No photo is worth the risk. Trespassing is always illegal and often fatal. When you see tracks, always assume there is a train.”
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) also will make the video available to its members, Rose said. In October, Operation Lifesaver partnered with PPA on a webinar, “Safety First: Photography Near Tracks and Trains.” OLI has also blogged about the issue and released sharable social graphics aimed at photographers, selfie-takers and friends.
Operation Lifesaver launched the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign in 2014. Preliminary 2014 statistics from the FRA cite an increase of 4.4 percent in overall trespass casualties and 13 percent in trespass deaths; trespass injuries fell 3.9 percent. Early indications are that trespass incidents continue to rise in 2015.
“Our outreach to the photography community is an urgent step in curbing these incidents,” Rose said, “but we want to reach everyone with a smart phone or a camera. Talk to your friends and family about the dangers of photographing on or near tracks and share our video. Let’s stop this terrifying trend.”