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Illinois Rail Safety Week runs from Sept. 13-19. During the week, safety agencies, railroads, law enforcement agencies and private corporations will coordinate to emphasize the importance of rail safety. Illinois is among the nation’s leaders in rail injuries and fatalities. In 2013, Illinois saw the third most grade grossing deaths and the second most trespasser fatalities. In 2014, Illinois saw the second most vehicle collision fatalities and maintained its position in third for trespasser fatalities. The hope is that by emphasizing rail safety awareness and education, the number of deaths and injuries can be reduced.

Law enforcement officers will make a point to enforce the laws concerning railroad tracks and crossings. Many drivers and pedestrians who violate these laws will be cited. In Illinois, it is illegal to stop a vehicle on railroad tracks or within the highway-rail grade crossing. Despite the laws against stopping in these areas, more than two-thirds of all collisions take place at crossings equipped with protective gate arms and other active warning devices, according to Illinois Operation Lifesaver. 

The National Transportation Safety Board included mass transit safety on its Most Wanted List for 2015. With increasing numbers of people choosing to travel by light rail, commuter rail, subway and other forms of mass transit, the importance of rail safety should not be underestimated. In addition to citing violators, officers will work to get the message out by distributing literature to the public explaining proper conduct around trains and train tracks.

Source: Journal & Topics Newspapers, “Rail Safety Week Sept. 13-19,” 9 September 2015