Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has issued a proclamation making May 16, Operation Lifesaver Awareness Day in Wisconsin.
Operation Lifesaver is a national rail safety organization with coordinators in all 50 states. Its mission is to educate motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists about railroad safety and help put an end to preventable rail-related deaths and injuries.
Last year, there were 60 highway/railroad grade crossing crashes in Wisconsin. Those crashes resulted in two deaths and 22 injuries, according to preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The FRA also reported there were seven pedestrian incidents on or near railroad tracks in 2013, killing four people and injuring three.
Operation Lifesaver and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation offer the following rail safety reminders:
- Always expect a train at each highway/rail intersection. Freight trains don't travel at fixed times and schedules for passenger trains change.
- Trains have the right of way 100 percent of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police and pedestrians.
- Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes their cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled.
- An approaching train is always closer and moving faster than you think.
- Remember to cross train tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted.
- Stay alert around railroad tracks. That means no texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.