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Rail officials: Stop taking photos on railroad tracks

The N.C. Department of Transportation Rail Division’s BeRailSafe program urges individuals and professional photographers to stop taking photographs on railroad tracks, property and equipment. There are both safety and legal reasons for this message:

  • Railroad tracks are not safe. Train schedules vary widely, so you should expect a train to come along at any time, day or night. Trains cannot stop quickly, so you are in serious danger of being severely injured or killed if you cannot get out of their way in time.
  • In recent years, there have been too many instances nationwide of photographers and subjects being struck and killed by trains during photo shoots. As recently as July 25 of this year, a professional photographer was killed by a train in Fresno, California, during a photo shoot.
  • Railroad tracks and equipment are private railroad company property and trespassers can be charged with a misdemeanor.

This message is especially important at this time of year, when many high school students, often graduating seniors, take yearbook portraits. High school yearbook staff advisers are asked to notify students and professional photographers of the dangers involved in taking photographs on or near railroad tracks and advise them that any such portraits will be rejected. School administrators, teachers and parents should also discuss the dangers of these photographs with students and discourage them from trespassing on railroad tracks.

“By not rejecting railroad-background pictures, schools only encourage other people, including young children and teens, to believe that railroad tracks are safe places to be if they do not hear or see a train close by,” said Paul Worley, Rail Division director. “We need to realize that these pictures, whether in a yearbook or on social media, are extremely dangerous, irresponsible, and unacceptable.”

Though they are on the rise, trespassing deaths and injuries in North Carolina are completely avoidable if you stay off the tracks or only cross tracks at designated locations such as highway grade crossings, underpasses and bridges.

BeRailSafe works with North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, railroads and other safety stakeholders in programs to educate children, teens and adults on the dangers of trespassing on railroad tracks, property and equipment.

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