December 17, 2001
Operation Lifesaver Says 'Take Safety
to Heart': 'Tis Always the Season To be Careful at Rail Crossings and
- During the holiday season we have a lot on our minds, but a national
highway-rail safety group is cautioning motorists and pedestrians to be
careful at highway-rail grade crossings and to stay off rail rights-of-way.
"Take Safety to Heart," is the message from Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI),
a nonprofit rail safety outreach program with 49 State Coordinators and
nearly 3,000 trained presenters nationwide.
"In this time of shopping, celebration and family reunions, many of us will
be traveling away from home on unfamiliar, possibly icy roads," Gerri Hall,
OLI President, said. "So a little extra care as you approach a crossing
could mean the difference between a joyous or a tragic new year."
Students home for the holidays may be tempted to walk on the tracks or along
rail rights-of-way, Hall noted. This could also lead to tragedy. "Trains in
the distance can be closer than you think, so we urge you to: Stay Off! Stay
Away! Stay Alive!"
Approaching its 30th year, Operation Lifesaver and its safety partners have
been credited by the Federal Highway Administration with helping to save
10,000 lives and preventing 40,000 injuries through its national outreach
Yet the problem is not solved, Hall points out. Every 120 minutes a
collision occurs between a vehicle or a pedestrian and a train. In 2000,
according to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 3,500
collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in America. These resulted in 425
deaths and 1,219 injuries. An additional 463 pedestrians died last year
walking on or along tracks.
Operation Lifesaver (OL) is a non-profit, nationwide public education
program dedicated to ending crashes, injuries and fatalities at
intersections where roadways meet railways and along railroad rights-of-way.
OL's Presenters are trained to speak to community groups, school children,
and others to offer safety tips. Video training modules are available for
professional truck drivers, emergency response personnel, school bus
drivers, and new drivers. All drivers are urged to "Look, Listen and Live!"
at rail crossings.