Have a safe summer by staying off tracks

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2016

RALEIGH – Governor McCrory launched his 25-year vision for North Carolina’s transportation infrastructure with rail as a critical component.

In 2015, North Carolina had the most exports to international markets in state history, totaling $31.2 billion, and rail service plays a critical role in supporting these businesses that export. With our growing economy and increased rail traffic, safety is our top priority.

As summer break begins, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division wants to remind parents and students of the dangers and legal issues of walking along, playing on, or taking pictures on railroad tracks.

  • Railroad tracks –and the land along them, known as the right of way – are privately owned by the railroad companies. Being on the railroad tracks is trespassing and can result in an arrest or fine.
  • Trains do not run on a strict timetable. Freight trains run at all hours of the day and passenger trains can be delayed and show up unexpectedly. Always expect a train at any time from either direction. There is no safe time to be on the tracks, ever.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly to avoid hitting someone on the tracks, and they certainly cannot swerve. It can be impossible to get off the tracks in time to avoid an oncoming train, and the train may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.

So far in 2016, nine people have been struck and killed in North Carolina because they were trespassing on railroad tracks, including three people in May. Twenty people were killed in both 2014 and 2015.

NCDOT is improving rail safety through crossing improvements and educational outreach through its BeRailSafe Program, a railroad crossing safety initiative.

All trespassing deaths and incidents can be avoided. It is never OK to walk on railroad tracks — always cross tracks at a designated location such as an at-grade crossing, a bridge or an underpass.

Please help spread the word that railroad tracks are dangerous and should not be used as shortcuts for any reason. Help save lives by staying off of the tracks.