INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb has proclaimed Sept. 21 to 27 as Indiana Rail Safety Week in conjunction with U.S., Canada and Mexico Rail Safety Week that will take place throughout North America.
The goal is to increase rail safety awareness by working collaboratively with virtual events due to COVID-19 and socially distanced in-person events. Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Transportation, local law enforcement agencies and railroad companies have partnered together to raise awareness about the dangers of disregarding railroad crossing laws and trespassing on railroad property.
“Every three hours, a vehicle or person are hit by a train in the United States; and in Indiana, most of our collisions happen at crossings with active warning devices,” said Jessica Feder, Indiana Operation Lifesaver executive director. “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Rail Safety Week will emphasize virtual activities and social media to share our lifesaving messages. We want the public to know how important it is to pay attention at railroad crossings and our priority is safe interaction between railroads and our communities.”
As part of Rail Safety week, new video and public service announcements are being released in an ongoing public awareness campaign aimed at saving lives near railroad tracks. The campaign, called #STOPTrackTragedies, features videos with the personal stories of people directly affected by rail crossing or trespassing incidents — including victims, friends and family members, locomotive engineers and first responders.
“Our goal is to keep Hoosiers safe at crossings and near train tracks,” said Feder. “We are seeing an increase in trespasser activity on railroad tracks in 2020 due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. Indiana OL encourages everyone to make safe decisions and pay attention around train tracks so we can stop track tragedies.”
In 2019, Indiana experienced 120 railroad crossing collisions resulting in 44 people injured and 11 fatalities. Indiana is currently ranked fourth nationally for railroad crossing collisions. The Hoosier state had nine trespasser deaths last year as well as eight injuries.
Indiana Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade intersections and on railroad rights-of-way through public education, engineering and enforcement. To learn more about Indiana Operation Lifesaver, visit www.oli.org or call (812) 528-4327.