JEFFERSON CITY - To draw attention to steps that can help eliminate senseless deaths and injuries at highway-rail crossings and on railroad tracks, April 12 - 18 will be celebrated as Rail Safety Week in Missouri. During this week, the Missouri Department of Transportation will join forces with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Operation Lifesaver, railroad personnel and local law enforcement agencies to raise public awareness about railroad safety.
Positive enforcement events during Rail Safety Week will take place in Independence, Jefferson City and Kirkwood at the following times and locations:
Independence - 10:30 a.m. to noon Monday, April 13
· Union Pacific line at crossings off Noland Road at Osage St. and 35th St.
· Kansas City Southern line at McCoy Ave.
Jefferson City - 9 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 15
· Union Pacific line at Militia Dr.
Kirkwood - 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 17
· Union Pacific line at Taylor Ave. and Leffingwell Ave. (10:30 a.m. - Noon)
· BNSF line at the Holmes Ave. crossing (1 - 2 p.m.)
Highway-rail crossing collisions were down significantly in Missouri in 2008, but it was still another deadly year, according to MoDOT. In 2008, the number of collisions at rail crossings dropped to 33 compared to 46 in 2007. Unfortunately, there were seven fatalities at railroad crossings last year - the same number of lives lost in 2007. Furthermore in 2008, at areas other than at crossings, 10 people were hit and killed and 7 were injured while walking illegally on railroad tracks or railroad property.
"Any rail-related injury or fatality is one too many, so we are combining various engineering, education and enforcement efforts to improve rail safety in Missouri," said Rod Massman, MODOT's railroad administrator. "While accidents at crossings for the most part are decreasing, railroad incidents in which people are struck while walking on the tracks are unfortunately on the rise. Four people have already been killed while walking on the rails in 2009. We are very concerned with this trend, so we are working even harder to warn Missourians to stay off railroad tracks and, as always, use caution when driving over railroad crossings."
Volunteers and staff from the partnering agencies will share rail safety information and remind drivers to buckle up at the crossings listed above. However, all Missourians should remember the following safety tips at rail crossings and on railroad property:
· Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings only.
· Never drive or walk around lowered gates - it's illegal and deadly.
· Never race a train to the crossing. It is closer and moving faster than you think.
· If your vehicle stalls on or too near the tracks, get out and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction the train is coming from.
· If you are at a multiple track crossing, watch out for a second train from either direction.
· Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly - it can take a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour a mile or more to stop.
· Do not walk on or over railroad property - this is trespassing!
· Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad bridges or trestles.
· Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time.
"On average, somewhere in the United States, a vehicle or pedestrian is struck by a train every two hours," said Rick Mooney, Missouri Operation Lifesaver director. "Operation Lifesaver has adopted a new slogan with a clear message intended to help eliminate rail tragedies: ‘Stay Off; Stay Away; and Stay Alive.'"
Counties with the highest number of incidents for the past four years have also been targeted for various education and enforcement actions this year. So far, events are being planned starting in May and throughout the rest of 2009 for the city of St. Louis and the counties of Audrain, Franklin, Greene, Jackson, Jasper, Johnson, Monroe, St. Louis and Stoddard.
Groups interested in scheduling a free rail safety presentation can sign up online at www.showmeol.org/forms/presentation.htm. For additional information, go to www.modot.org/othertransportation/rail/index.htm.
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