While the number of highway-rail crossing collisions, deaths and injuries have dropped over the past five decades, a person or vehicle is hit by a train about every three hours in the U.S.
That’s why the Cleburne Police Department this week is participating in “Operation Clear Track,” to raise awareness and enforce state railroad grade crossing and trespassing laws.
The measure runs concurrently with Rail Safety Week, which is being observed through Saturday.
“During ‘Operation Clear Track,’ Cleburne Police Department personnel will be stationed at targeted railroad grade crossing locations to issue citations or warnings to violators,” CPD Community Relations Officer Kerri Abbott said. “Officials will also disseminate railroad safety cards to motorists and pedestrians. The goal of Rail Safety Week is to reduce pedestrian and driver injuries and fatalities around railroad tracks through increased public awareness and enforcement.”
Throughout the week, officers will observe traffic at the railroad crossings at Williams and Second streets from 9 a.m. to noon each day.
Officials with the Federal Railroad Administration Raising said bringing awareness about the dangers at crossings and along rail lines is important because preventable injuries or deaths still occur.
“Safety is the No. 1 priority for U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and the Federal Transit Administration,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “Every day, millions of people ride and work on rail transit systems, and Rail Safety Week is an important opportunity to highlight the need to be safe and alert if walking near commuter trains, light rail or streetcars.”
Operation Lifesaver offers the following tips for railroad safety:
• Never race a train to the crossing — even if you tie, you lose.
• The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
• Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields.
• Never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the emergency number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
• Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
• If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. If a train is approaching, run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45-degree angle. If you run in the same direction a train is traveling, you could be injured by flying debris.
• At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
• When you need to go across train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
• The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined.
• It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time.
• Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.