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A Disturbing Percentage of Railroad Trespassing Incidents Are fatal


WEBWIRE

HOMEWOOD, ILLINOIS - CN Railroad will emphasize the deadly risks of trespassing on railroad property during Rail Safety Week from April 23 to 29, 2007. CN Police officers will be out in full force this week, conducting their annual safety blitz operations at highway/railroad crossings in about 100 locations across the United States and Canada, alerting motorists to the importance of safety at crossings and to the dire consequences of trespassing on railroad property.

Trespassing includes: walking, playing or running on or beside railroad tracks; driving a bike, a car, an ATV, a snowmobile, or any other vehicle on or beside railroad tracks; taking a shortcut across railroad tracks or railroad property or entering railroad yards at any time.

Recent statistics reveal that trespassing incidents claimed 530 lives in the United States in 2006, remaining at a constant yearly average over the past decade, while fatalities due to crossing collisions were down to 362, reflecting a steady improvement during the same period. Statistics also show that in 2006, 53 per cent of trespassing incidents resulted in death, a 14.5 per cent increase from 2005.(1)

CN Police Chief Bob Keane said, ďTrespassing on railroad tracks and in rail yards is dangerous and illegal and CN Police officers strictly enforce regulations by issuing tickets to trespassers. However, railroad properties are extremely large and spread out and it is very difficult to stop trespassing. Enforcement is not enough - education can help reduce fatalities. This is why we are increasing our efforts to inform people of the very serious risks they take when trespassing.Ē

This year, during the safety blitz operations, CN Police officers will conduct an information campaign with motorists, cautioning them against trespassing and providing them with a flyer about what people need to know about trespassing.

According to Keane, ďOur message is clear: Donít put yourself at risk by trespassing on railroad property. In other words, donít let a shortcut cut your life short. Acting responsibly and safely is the right thing to do and it is everyoneís responsibility.Ē

Focusing its efforts on promoting safety is not new for CN. Every year, CN Police officers make hundreds of All Aboard for Safety presentations and talk to more than a quarter of a million children and adults at schools and community events about the importance of safety and the dangers of walking and playing on or near railroad tracks. They also conduct dramatic, high-impact simulations of train-vehicle collisions to demonstrate the potentially dire consequences of being careless and/or drinking and driving, especially at crossings.

CN has been promoting railroad safety for more than 25 years through its All Aboard for Safety community education program. Part of the strength of this program is the collaborative relationship with major community safety partners: Operation Lifesaver, Safe Kids Worldwide and MADD.

While 10 year statistical trends - 1997 to 2006 - reveal a decline in collisions and fatalities at railroad crossings, trespassing incidents have remained at a constant level in the United States, with an average of 530 fatalities per year for the same 10 years period (1997 - 2006).

The relative percentage of fatalities resulting from trespassing collisions is also much higher, indicating that trespassing incidents are, on the average, more serious than crossing incidents.

More than 53 per cent of trespassing incidents result in death, a 14.5 per cent increase from 2005.
Source: Federal Railroad Administration

TALES FROM THE TRACK

The incident:

The gates were down and the lights were flashing, but a mother with a small child was in a hurry and ran across the railroad tracks as a train was approaching. She tripped and fell on the tracks and then got up and continued running across while dragging her child behind her in order to beat the train. This time they made it across.

The lesson:

Donít put yourself at risk by racing across a railroad track to try to beat an oncoming train. Itís your choice. Itís your life and the life of your child.

The incident:

A young man was killed by a train while driving his ATV close to a railroad track. The noise from his vehicle blocked out the sound of the train and he never heard it coming.

The lesson:

Donít put yourself at risk by walking or riding any type of vehicle, on or anywhere near railroad tracks. Trespassing is dangerous and illegal.

The incident:

A father dropped off his 12-year-old son near a railroad track so that his son could cross over the track and climb through a hole in the fence to get to school. He took a shortcut to save five minutes.

The lesson:

Donít put yourself and your loved ones at risk by taking shortcuts across railroad tracks. Never climb over or through fences on railroad property.

The incident:

A CN Police officer spotted a three-year-old girl wandering out from between two rail cars of a train waiting at a platform. She was followed by her mother, who lifted a stroller (carrying a baby) over the knuckle between the rail cars. The officer stopped the train from pulling out, averting a deadly accident.

The lesson:

Never climb on or over rail cars. If you chose to trespass on railroad property, youíre putting your life on the line.

The incident:

A man was walking his dog along a railroad track when a train approached. The trainís crew blew the horn and the man got off the tracks but the dog did not. Local police said that both were struck and killed as the man tried to grab his dog off the tracks.

The lesson:

Donít put yourself at risk by walking on or beside railroad tracks. Trains are not able to stop quickly and cannot swerve to avoid you on the track. Trespassing is deadly.

The incident:

CN Police saw an elderly woman run past the flashing lights at a railroad crossing in front of a moving train. The train went into emergency stop, almost hitting her. When questioned why she did this, her reply was, ďIím an old lady. If I get hit, itís my choice.Ē When the officer explained that he would have to tell her grandchildren how their grandmother got injured or killed, she had a tear in her eye and apologized to the officer and the train crew.

The lesson:

There are dire consequences if you trespass. Itís your choice and itís your life.

The incident:

A small group of teenagers decided to cross the railroad tracks near their school instead of using a designated crossing which was a little further down. They waited for a train to go by and then started crossing only to be hit by a train coming in the opposite direction on the other track. The train was unable to stop quickly.

The lesson:

Donít put yourself at risk and stay safe by crossing railroad tracks at designated crossings. Remember trains can come from either direction, on any track, at any time.



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