WASHINGTON, DC, December 14, 2023 – During this season of holiday journeys and winter adventures, it’s crucial to understand the importance of making safe choices around railroad tracks and trains.
Rail safety education nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) urges everyone to know the facts, recognize the signs and always make safe choices around tracks and trains.
“With over 140,000 miles of track across the U.S. and more than 200,000 railroad crossings, travelers and winter weather enthusiasts are likely to encounter trains and tracks this winter,” said Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “We urge everyone to take extra caution around railroad tracks and trains. Recognize the importance of making safe choices and what those choices should look like before you head out,” she continued.
OLI shares these facts for drivers and pedestrians:
- Every 3 hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
- More than 60% of vehicle-train collisions occur at active railroad crossings with either crossing lights or gates.
- Trains cannot stop quickly. It can take a train a mile or more – the length of 18 football fields – to stop.
- Railroad tracks are private property. Being on them or close to them is dangerous and illegal.
- Trains are quieter, moving faster and may be closer than they appear – like an airplane that appears to be hanging still in the sky.
- Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, followed by railroad crossing incidents.
Maleh continued, “Holiday and winter travels are great opportunities to talk about being safe around trains. Whether walking in your neighborhood, driving across the country or playing in the snow, remember: See Tracks? Think Train!®”
Six Winter Rail Safety Tips
- Always expect a train at any crossing, at any time in either direction.
- Look and listen. Snow and wind can muffle the sound of an approaching train. If you’re wearing a helmet or hat in snowy, windy or rainy conditions, the sound of a train can be muffled. Listen carefully and stay focused.
- Never try and beat a train or go around lights and gates.
- Never walk, bike, snowmobile, ski or play on or near railroad tracks. It’s illegal and dangerous. Rails and recreation don’t mix. Stay off and stay away from railroad tracks.
- If your vehicle won’t fit completely across the tracks, don’t commit. Leave at least 15 feet between the railroad track and the front and back of your vehicle.
- Stuck or stalled on the tracks? GET OUT! GET AWAY! FIND THE BLUE AND WHITE SIGN. If your vehicle gets stuck or stalls at a crossing, get everyone out and far away immediately, even if you do not see a train. Call the number on the Blue and White Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign and share the crossing ID number with the dispatcher. No sign? Dial 911.
Said Maleh, “Share the importance of making safe choices around tracks and trains with your family, children, friends and co-workers. Together, we can #STOPTrackTragedies.”
OLI offers free online rail safety assets for a variety of audiences to share including videos, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), infographics and social media graphics (as shown below) and educational materials for children in grades K-12, coloring books, activity books, videos and tips for new drivers at oli.org.