2009-01-08 / Local & State

PennDOT Encourages Safety, Awareness Near Railroads

Pennsylvania's rail industry offers great economic benefits, but railroad tracks can be deadly to individuals who aren't careful. PennDOT is reminding people to be cautious when traveling near the tracks.

"People may be tempted to walk or play on railroad tracks, but many don't realize how dangerous this can be, and they may not know that it's illegal," PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. said. "PennDOT encourages people to educate themselves about rail safety and to always be vigilant when traveling near railroad tracks."

In the past five years, 88 people have been killed crossing railroad tracks or trespassing on railroad property in Pennsylvania, with 23 fatalities in 2007. Eighteen people were killed in collisions between trains and vehicles in the past five years.

PennDOT suggests the following tips for safety around railroads:

Railroad tracks are private property and can be dangerous, never trespass on or around railroad tracks, trestles or bridges. Remember: the only sure way to be safe is to "stay off, stay away, stay alive."

When crossing at-grade railroad tracks, pedestrians and motorists should exercise caution. Trains always have the rightof way.

Only cross railroad tracks at designated crossings and obey all warning signs and devices. If you see flashing lights and lowering gates at a crossing, stop - that means a train is approaching.

Never play on rail cars or attempt to crawl under a train at any time, you never know when the train will start moving.

School buses, commercial buses and trucks carrying hazardous materials are required b tate law to stop at all at-grade railroad crossings, exercise caution when driving behind them.

For more information on rail safety initiatives or to schedule a presentation on public rail safety, contact Operation Lifesaver at 1-800-537-6224 or online at www.oli.org. Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit, international public education program that seeks to end fatalities, injuries and accidents around railroad tracks. It is sponsored by federal, state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations and the nation's railroads.

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