Train safety was hardly on my radar several weeks ago when I encountered a traffic jam in my small city that had residents complaining on local forums and looking for routes out of the mess.
Seems that a train had come to a full and complete stop along the tracks that cross the main street leading into our city. For a few hours, no one could come in and no one could get out, at least via Main Street.
Rumors quickly began to spread. The train had hit someone. A woman. She was injured, no killed! It was an accident, or was it suicide?
Suddenly, the fact that we lived so close to a very active train route became something we didn’t take for granted anymore, and train safety became more of a concern.
Scary statistics and railroad safety
The golden age of the railroad has long since passed, but what you may not realize is that trains are responsible for transporting a whopping 12 million containers filled with all kinds of products each year. Think about that the next time your kids are counting cars on a train!
Most railway tracks course through unpopulated areas of the country, through deserts, across prairies, and over mountain ridges. However, enough trains pass through towns and cities of all sizes to make train safety an issue. Consider these numbers:
- About every 3 hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
- In 2013, there were 11,523 total train accidents/incidences. This number includes 736 fatalities.
- A driver is almost 20 times more likely to die in an accident involving a train than with another vehicle.
- 94% of all vehicle/train collisions are caused by risky driver behavior.
- More people are killed each year in highway/pedestrian train accidents than in airplane crashes.
- It can take a train a full mile or more to brake — even after it’s hit something!
Injuries and fatalities involving trains can’t be blamed on the weather or late night hours, since a full 64% occur during the daytime! 50% of the accidents occur when the train is traveling just 30 mph.
Yes, Train Your Brain!
Norfolk Southern, one of the leading rail transport companies in the country, is taking the lead in spreading the message of train safety with its public safety campaign, “Train Your Brain“. The campaign features a happy, pink, walking brain named Brainy, who is intended to be a walking illustration for citizens to remember railroad safety at all times.
The campaign also features provocative billboards illustrating to passing drivers that the race across the tracks isn’t worth it. Each year Brainy’s efforts focus on a different area of the United States, and this summer he has traveled about North and South Carolina sharing safety facts and tips.
If flashing lights, RAILROAD CROSSING signs, and lowered crossing arms at railroad crossings aren’t enough, how about a dose of common sense?
Here are some safety lessons to remember and teach your kids:
- A crossbuck sign at a railroad crossing means slow down, look, and listen for a train. You won’t always hear the train whistle, so don’t rely on that alone. (Scary to think that 20% of the population doesn’t know what the crossbuck sign means!)
- Stay away from the tracks. Uneven ground and the tracks themselves provide a hazardous walking surface.
- Trains come from both directions, so be sure to look both ways.
- Riding motorcycles or minibikes on train tracks is illegal and dangerous.
- Be patient. It may take a while for a train to pass.
- If you have to guess whether or not you can, “beat the train“, you can’t. Just stop and wait.
- Just because you’ve never seen a train pass through on a particular set of tracks, doesn’t mean that rail line isn’t active anymore. Treat any set of tracks as though a train could pass at any time.
- Playing on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Walking on tracks may look cool in the movies but, again, dangerous and illegal.
The lure and romance of trains runs deep throughout American history and modern rail transport is one of the backbones of our nation’s commerce. We can co-exist without accident, injury, or death by following common sense rules and teaching them to the next generation.
Click here to view the entire infographic.
Norfolk Southern sponsored this post as part of their “Train Your Brain” public safety campaign. I agreed with them that this is an important message for Survival Mom readers.
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