Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), Operation Lifesaver Canada and the Association of Mexican Railroads (AMF) have joined forces to promote rail safety by observing Rail Safety Week across North America, Sept. 20-26. The annual effort spotlights safe practices when around railroad property to #STOPTrackTragedies.
“Across the United States, Operation Lifesaver state programs will share rail safety messages each day during Rail Safety Week underscoring our core mission – to save lives,” said Rachel Maleh, executive director of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. “We are grateful to our safety partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation 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.”
National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada Sarah Mayes added, “Our goal during Rail Safety Week is to drive home the message that an unsafe decision made in a split second – whether it’s to go around a lowered gate at a rail crossing or to trespass on the tracks – can have devastating consequences for you, your loved ones and members of your community.”
AMF Director General Iker de Luisa said, ““We urge drivers, passengers and anyone traveling near railroad tracks and trains to use common sense and be alert. Our priority is the promotion of safe interactions between railroads and the community. #VesViasPiensaEnTren #CuidaTuVida.”
Each day of the week will emphasize a different theme. For example, Sept. 21 was the fifth annual observance of Operation Clear Track in the U.S. and Canada, which put the spotlight on the importance of obeying crossing safety and anti-trespass laws.
Nearly 500 police and sheriff departments across 43 states and the District of Columbia joined Amtrak Police and OLI for Operation Clear Track, which Amtrak says is the largest railroad safety initiative in the U.S.
The event saw police and sheriff’s officials report to high-incident railroad crossings within their jurisdictions around the country to share safety tips, enforce state grade crossing and trespassing laws and issue citations and warnings to violators. Amtrak says this rail safety detail has resulted in thousands of citations and warnings to drivers and trespassers who were largely unaware that they were in violation of the law.
“We can’t say this enough, trespassing on train tracks is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal in all 50 states,” said Amtrak Chief of Police Samuel Dotson. “Every time someone trespasses on the tracks, it can lead to devastating results which impact someone’s life, their family, and the community at large.”
Additional efforts during Rail Safety Week will focus on transit safety, highlight trespass prevention and promote awareness and education of illegally taking photos or videos near tracks and trains.