JACKSON, Miss.- This week is rail safety week. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety/Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP) and Canadian National (CN) railroad are teaming up to raise awareness regarding rail crossing safety during the company’s rail safety week April 27 to May 3.“This is a public safety issue,” Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz said in a press release. “Motorists should take seriously the potential dangers at roadway and railway intersections and always obey railroad warning signs and signals.”
Being on railroad tracks or railroad property anywhere except at designated, marked crossings is illegal and dangerous. Railroad tracks are not a place for children to play, for adults to take short cuts across, or for anyone to use as a setting for pictures.
Cynthia Stotz CN railroad spokesperson says the reason for so many railroad fatalities is because of their lack of attention.
“There’s a lot of optical allusions around trains.” Stotz says, “Because trains are so big and so long people misjudge the speed of the train. The trains usually going faster than what they think it’s going; they misjudge how far away the train is, when something’s coming directly at you it’s hard to tell the distance of it and then of course there’s distractions like your earphones, phone, goofing around, laughing, talking; the last thing you’re paying attention to is what’s going on around you and when you’re around train tracks that’s going to have deadly effects.”
“If a person is on the tracks he or she breaks state trespassing laws,” MHP Director Colonel Donnell Berry said. “Trespassing injuries or fatalities on railroad tracks are entirely preventable.”
“Education about rail crossing safety and the dangers of trespassing is everyone’s responsibility.” said CN Chief of Police and Chief Security Officer Stephen Covey. “Together we can save lives.” Ten easy rail safety tips that can save lives:
- Never walk or play on train tracks. It’s dangerous and illegal.
- Never play or stay near a stopped train
- Cross train tracks at designated highway/railroad crossings.
- Look for signals and respect them.
- Be prepared to stop at crossings.
- Cross the tracks in low gear; do not change gears while crossing.
- Stalled vehicle? Get out quickly and move away from the vehicle and tracks.
- Listen for warning bells and whistles when approaching a crossing.
- Remember a train can hide another.
- Keep the MHP number handy.