As Labor Day weekend approaches, Union Pacific Railroad has an important safety message for drivers preparing to hit the road for the holiday: exercise caution at railroad crossings.
"Because of its size, a train is actually moving faster than it appears, and by the time a locomotive engineer sees a vehicle on the crossing, it is too late to stop," explained Dale Bray, Union Pacific director – public safety.
Although the rail industry has reduced crossing collisions by more than 84 percent since 1972, 266 people died and 991 were injured in 2011 as a result of grade crossing collisions throughout the United States, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The “I Brake for Trains” Web site explains why pedestrians may be injured or killed at railroad crossings, including:
- Most people who are hurt by trains aren't trying to do anything dangerous.
- People who walk on the tracks think they'll hear the train coming in time to move.
- People who cut through crossing arms think they have plenty of time to get across the tracks.
- Hundreds of people are killed – and thousands are injured – every year because of these assumptions.
The site warns that trains can be surprisingly quiet; move faster and closer than you might think; and cannot stop in time to avoid hitting you.
Union Pacific works to promote railroad grade crossing and pedestrian safety through its UP CARES (Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety) public safety initiative and has reduced grade crossing incidents by 37 percent across its rail network since 2001. UP CARES activities include:
- Grade crossing enforcement with local, county and state law enforcement agencies;
- Safety trains that provide local officials a firsthand look at what locomotive engineers see daily while they operate trains through a community; and
- Communication blitzes that educate the community at events or media outreach.
"With the Labor Day weekend being one of the busiest vehicle travel days during the year, we want drivers to use caution when they cross railroad tracks, always expect a train and safely arrive at their destinations," said Robert Morrison, Union Pacific Chief of Police.
For more information about grade crossing safety visit ibrakefortrains.com.