August Is Back to School Month

Does Your Child Know About Rail Safety?

It is hard to believe that it is already time for kids to head back to school. It seems like we were just closing out the school year, planning vacations, and looking forward to warm weather and summer fun.

As parents and teachers prepare for busy school schedules, we are committed to helping students of all ages get ready for a successful year of learning. Sharing proper safety precautions and safety tips are a crucial part of our plans for their return to school. It is important that our safety messages include rail safety tips, especially if their route is near tracks and trains, or crosses railroad tracks.

Educating our kids to make safe choices near tracks and trains will help them stay safe as they make their daily trip to and from school. Making sure students of all ages know about rail safe behavior and knowing when and how to cross the tracks is important for them to understand whether they walk, ride a bike, take a bus, or are driven to school.

Statistics – Numbers We Need to Change

Per the Federal Railroad Administration, over the recent 3 year period 2020 – 2022, California has the highest number of Trespass Casualties (injuries and fatalities) and the second highest number of Grade Crossing incidents in the U.S. Sadly, we have the highest number of fatalities for both Trespass and Grade Crossing.

During that 3-year period, the U.S. had 3,367 Trespass Casualties (Both injuries and fatalities), and 1731 Trespass Fatalities. During that same time frame in the U.S., there were 704 Highway Rail Grade Crossing fatalities. California’s 422 Trespass Fatalities account for over 24% of the US Trespass fatalities, our 736 Trespass Casualties (Both injuries and fatalities) represent 22% of the total U.S. casualties. Our California Highway Rail Grade crossing fatalities account for over 16% of the US fatalities with the next highest state accounting for about 8% of the Highway Grade Cross fatalities.

California has 2.5 Times higher the number of Trespass fatalities and nearly 2 Times the number of Grade Crossing Fatalities than the next highest state.

California Operation Lifesaver Executive Director, Nancy Sheehan-McCulloch indicates; “These statistics emphasize the need for raising rail safety awareness and providing education for all ages. We need to change dangerous behaviors near tracks and trains. It will take all of us working together to make a difference and impact change. Back to School Month is a great time to start by raising rail safety awareness with students, faculty, school districts, school bus drivers and parents. If you have not already begun to share rail safety tips with your kids or your “Back to School” community, it is never too late to start.”

Rail Safety Tips – Education to Share

Please share these rail safety tips and help your students and your community make the commitment to always “Respect The Rails” and choose to make safe decisions near tracks and trains.

  • Always expect a train! Trains are quieter and faster than you think, can run on any track, at any time, from either direction and do not run on schedules.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time.
  • Never walk on or beside railroad tracks; it’s illegal and dangerous. Never use railroad tracks as a walking, jogging or biking path.
  • Crossing tracks on a bike, or on other narrow wheels requires caution and extra attention. When possible, walk, don’t ride across the tracks. Cyclists, walk your bike across train tracks at a 90-degree angle.
  • The only safe place to cross tracks is at designated public crossings with a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. Crossing anywhere else is illegal.
  • Never try to beat a train! Never pass flashing lights or go around lowered gates. Always wait until the lights have stopped flashing and gates are completely raised. Wait to cross until you can see clearly in both directions. Multiple tracks may mean multiple trains.
  • Stay off railroad bridges and trestles. Stay out of railroad tunnels. There is ONLY ROOM for the train.
  • Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police, and pedestrians.
  • A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark.
  • Never take photos or videos on tracks. It is dangerous and illegal. An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you – and its speed. Trains can’t stop quickly. By the time an engineer sees a person or a vehicle on the tracks, it may be too late to stop the train.
  • Stay alert around railroad tracks, Avoid Distractions. No texting, no headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.

More Rail Safety Tips and Information:

Rail Safety Resources | Track Safety Basics

Know About the ENS SIGN

Together we can mentor our children and lead by example. Start by always Respecting the Rails, following all the signs, signals and laws near railroad tracks and choosing to make safe decisions. Rail Safety is For Everyone. You can help us save lives by sharing rail safety tips with your kids, parents, teachers, school bus drivers, and your community. Be a Mentor, demonstrate safe behaviors whenever you are near tracks and trains. Share the message with your loved ones. Share the “Respect The Rails” message with 5 people. Ask them to always “Respect The Rails” and make safe decisions near railroad tracks. Ask those 5 to tell 5 and those 5 to tell 5… Together we can grow awareness and save lives! #SaveLivesTell5

Back to School Month – Help Save Lives – Share Rail Safety Tips

An Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign, posted at or near a highway-rail grade crossing, lists a telephone number along with the crossing’s US DOT number and is used to notify the railroad of an emergency or warning device malfunction.

If your vehicle gets stuck or stalls at a crossing, get everyone out and far away immediately, even if you do not see a train.

Call the number on the Blue and White Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign and share the crossing ID number with the dispatcher. No sign? Dial 911.

Coming Soon: SEPTEMBER IS RAIL SAFETY MONTH in the State of California.

National Rail Safety Week is 9/18 – 9/24. Start now being a Rail Safety advocate during Back-To-School month. Stay tuned and follow California Operation Lifesaver for information on how you can participate and help raise rail safety awareness during Rail Safety Month / Rail Safety Week.

Please share rail safety messages with your family and friends. #SeeTracksThinkTrain  #SaveLivesTell5!

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