RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is urging the public to pay more attention to railroad tracks and crossings as part of Rail Safety Week (Sept. 20-26).
In America, every four hours a person or a vehicle is hit by a train, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In North Carolina this year, there have been 34 crossing crashes, resulting in six fatalities and eight injuries. Additionally, 20 known incidents of people walking on tracks resulted in 11 fatalities and six injuries.
“Sadly, those are 17 people who didn’t go home to their families,” said Jason Orthner, director of NCDOT’s Rail Division. “Tracks are for trains, not people. These accidents are preventable if you stay off and away from the tracks.”
The department’s Rail Division wants people to remember these life-saving tips:
- Trains always have the right-of-way, even when emergency and law enforcement vehicles are involved.
- Always stop your vehicle when crossing gates are down or lights are flashing. Never drive around the gate or race a train to the crossing.
- It can take more than a mile for a train to stop.
- It is hard to determine a train’s speed from a distance.
- Trains typically overhang the track by several feet. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit.
- Never assume railroad tracks are abandoned or inactive.
The goal of Rail Safety Week is to raise awareness of the need for rail safety education and empower the public to keep themselves safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way. NCDOT partners with BeRailSafe and North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, railroads, and other safety stakeholders to educate children, teens, and adults on the dangers of walking on railroad tracks, property, and equipment.