Stop track tragedies: It’s Rail Safety Week in North America

Every year, 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured when they engage in unsafe behavior around railroad tracks and trains.

Indiana Operation Lifesaver is joining Operation Lifesaver Inc., Operation Lifesaver Canada and Mexican Association of Railroads to observe Rail Safety Week this week in North America and urging the public to help #STOPTrackTragedies. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a proclamation declaring the observance of Rail Safety Week in the state.

“Across the United States and throughout Indiana, Operation Lifesaver will share rail safety messages each day during Rail Safety Week underscoring our core mission — to save lives,” said Jessica Feder, executive director of Indiana Operation Lifesaver. “We are grateful to our safety partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation, INDOT and in the first responder community as well as the many other organizations who share the rail safety message this week, but more importantly, each and every day.”

Rail Safety Week activities in Indiana will emphasize community education events along enforcement blitzes and social media to share lifesaving messages, she said.

“Through rail safety education during Rail Safety Week and every day, we are empowering Indiana residents to make safe choices around railroad trains and tracks,” she said.

In Indiana each year, there is an average of 125 railroad crossing collisions with multiple injuries and deaths. Rail-related trespasser injuries and fatalities also are on the rise throughout the state. Operation Lifesaver works to prevent these needless incidents from happening.

As part of Rail Safety week, new video and audio public service announcements and social media campaigns are being released. An ongoing campaign called #STOPTrackTragedies features videos with the personal stories of people directly affected by rail crossing or trespassing incidents, including victims, friends and family members, locomotive engineers and first responders. The full campaign can be viewed at oli.org/stop-track-tragedies.

In Indiana and across the country, the following themes also will be emphasized:

• Monday kicked off the week with the overarching theme of #STOPTrackTragedies and a focus on media outreach and Rail Safety Week proclamations in states and localities.

• Tuesday focused on the annual observance of Operation Clear Track in the United States and Canada emphasizing the importance of obeying crossing safety and anti-trespass laws. Law enforcement partners will conduct awareness exercises, Officer on the Train activities and other in-person positive enforcement events. First responders will share Rail Safety Week messages virtually through social media, email messaging and website posts.

• Today highlights crossing safety with outreach to the public, farmers and farm machine operators as well as outdoor enthusiasts on safe crossing techniques with special attention to the blue and white Emergency Notification System signs at crossings.

• Thursday’s focus will be transit and professional driver safety, showcasing how to stay safe as a rail commuter or transit rider as well as safe choices around railroad tracks and trains for professional drivers.

• Friday will focus on Wearing Red or “Red Out” for Rail Safety by encouraging safety organizations, partners, schools, railroads and the public to wear red at public events and share photos on social media.

• Saturday will highlight trespass prevention, educating pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers posed by being on or near the tracks.

• Sunday will promote No Photo, Video or Selfie is Worth the Risk to warn professional and amateur photographers against putting themselves or others in danger by illegally taking photos, videos or filming near tracks and trains.

Visitors to oli.org will be asked to join the virtual Rail Safety Week effort by sharing the Stop Track Tragedies videos and social media messaging using the hashtags #STOPTrackTragedies and #railsafetyweek.

Indiana Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. A network of trained volunteers gives free presentations on rail safety, and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” provides tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks.