Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared the first week in June as “Train Safety Awareness Week (TSAW).”
Set for June 1-7, 2014, volunteers from the railroad industry, as well as law enforcement personnel and emergency responders, will stage an information blitz to educate the public about the laws and rules governing activity around train tracks and grade crossings. This year, TSAW was scheduled to coincide with the 4th annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day on June 3, 2013.
The statistics are grim and chilling. In 2012, there were 57 highway/rail grade crossing incidents in Florida, resulting in 13 fatalities. In addition, there were 43 trespass incidents, with 27 fatalities. Florida ranks 4th in the nation in trespass fatalities. Approximately every three hours, either a vehicle, pedestrian, trespasser, or some form of debris is struck by a train in the United States.
During the week, law enforcement will be posted at grade crossings, where they will be issuing warnings and citations to drivers and pedestrians who do not adhere to the laws relating to trains and tracks. An additional effort this year will be focused on trespasser prevention, especially along the corridor between the West Palm Beach and Mangonia Park stations, an area where trespassing is a serious safety issue.
Partners on the TSAW project include the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, CSXT, Amtrak, Veolia, Bombardier, G4S Secure Solutions, Operation Lifesaver, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Florida Department of Transportation, law enforcement officials and first responders from throughout the tri-county area.