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Amtrak promotes safety around railroad crossings and tracks

Amtrak is raising awareness about safety in an effort to reduce injuries and fatalities on railroad crossings and tracks as summer gets underway.

Vehicle-train collisions at highway rail grade crossings fell 2.4 percent in 2016, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The number of people killed in these incidents rose 13.7 percent last year, and deaths due to train track trespassing increased 12.8 percent. Total trespass-related casualties increased 14.5 percent from 2015 levels, according to the agency.

America’s Railroad is one of several partners with Operation Lifesaver, a national nonprofit safety education group that works to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way.

Operation Lifesaver has programs in 46 states and trained volunteers who provide free safety presentations to community groups, school bus operators, truckers and student drivers to raise awareness of the dangers around railroad tracks and trains. The program uses materials from its national public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” to connect with the public through digital ads and at events.

Amtrak Police Department Deputy Chief Martin Conway serves on the Operation Lifesaver board of directors.

“The safety of customers, employees and the public is Amtrak’s top priority,” Conway said. “Education and outreach are critical in helping the public understand the importance of railroad safety.”

The program offers these rail safety tips:

• Report an emergency. A toll-free number is posted on every grade crossing for the public to contact a railroad to report problems.

• Avoid walking, biking or jogging on a railroad track.

• Remember to always stop at railroad crossings.

• Obey all warning signs and signals. Trains can come from either direction on the same track at any time and can be quiet.

• Use of headsets or cellphones around tracks can prevent a person from hearing an approaching train.

• Trains are wider than the tracks. If a person gets too close, he can be hit by or dragged under the train.

• Never drive around lowered gates; it’s illegal and deadly. Fines for going around the crossing arms are substantial.

• Report suspicious items, people or activity immediately to the Amtrak Police Department by approaching a uniformed officer, calling 800-331-0008, sending a text to APD11 (27311) or calling 911.

For more information on railroad safety, visit Operation Lifesaver at oli.org.

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