Cal­trans Re­minds Res­i­dents To Be Aware Around Rails

Escalon Times - - FRONT PAGE -

As Cal­i­for­nia re­mains num­ber one in the na­tion for fa­tal­i­ties at rail­road cross­ings, Cal­trans re­minds Cal­i­for­ni­ans to re­mem­ber the risks and dan­gers around trains and rail­road tracks and to prac­tice safe be­hav­ior around them dur­ing U.S. Rail Safety Week, ob­served Sept. 24-30.

With at-grade rail cross­ing fa­tal­i­ties in Cal­i­for­nia up nearly 80 per­cent be­tween 2015 and 2016, this is an op­por­tu­nity to re­mind pedes­tri­ans and mo­torists how they can help re­duce the uptick in in­ci­dents and fa­tal­i­ties across rail net­works in Cal­i­for­nia. Escalon has mul­ti­ple cross­ings in the city and many in the ru­ral area sur­round­ing the com­mu­nity, mak­ing the Cal­trans re­minder all the more im­por­tant.

“It is vi­tal that peo­ple un­der­stand that it is never worth tak­ing a short­cut across the tracks or try­ing to beat a train by driv­ing around the rail­road cross­ing gates,” said Cal­trans Di­rec­tor Mal­colm Dougherty. “Rail Safety Week is an op­por­tu­nity to re­mind mo­torists, bi­cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans to stay alert around rail­road tracks.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fed­eral Rail­road Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FRA) statis­tics, fa­tal­i­ties at at-grade cross­ings rose 79.3 per­cent from 2015 to 2016, rank­ing Cal­i­for­nia as num­ber one in the na­tion for that statis­tic as well. An at-grade cross­ing is a lo­ca­tion where a public or pri­vate road, street, side­walk or path­way in­ter­sects rail­road tracks at the same level. In­juries and fa­tal­i­ties can oc­cur when driv­ers at­tempt to drive around low­ered gates or do not com­pletely clear the cross­ing.

Cal­trans is do­ing its part with sev­eral projects to im­prove safety by bet­ter sep­a­rat­ing pedes­tri­ans and ve­hi­cles from rail­road cross­ings. For ex­am­ple, ma­jor safety im­prove­ments are un­der­way at the Rose­crans and Mar­quardt Av­enue in­ter­sec­tion in Santa Fe Springs, a rail­road cross­ing de­ter­mined to be the most haz­ardous in the state by the Cal­i­for­nia Public Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion. A $130 mil­lion grade sep­a­ra­tion will be built, with con­struc­tion sched­uled to be­gin as soon as Jan­uary 2019.

FRA statis­tics also rank Cal­i­for­nia as num­ber one for tres­pass ca­su­al­ties in the na­tion, with 101 deaths and 90 in­juries re­ported in

2016. This is a 17.4 per­cent jump from 2015. In­juries due to tres­pass­ing jumped a whop­ping 73.1 per­cent from 2015 to 2016. Tres­passers are by def­i­ni­tion il­le­gally on pri­vate rail­road prop­erty with­out per­mis­sion. They are most of­ten pedes­tri­ans who walk across or along rail­road tracks or tres­tles as a short­cut to an­other des­ti­na­tion. Some may be loi­ter­ing, while oth­ers are en­gaged in recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties such as jog­ging, hunt­ing, or tak­ing pho­tographs.

Whether a driver, pedes­trian or tran­sit user, Cal­trans re­minds all Cal­i­for­ni­ans to al­ways keep the fol­low­ing safety tips in mind near high­way-rail grade cross­ings and rail­road rights-ofway:

Trains can’t swerve nor can they stop quickly. A typ­i­cal freight train can take more than a mile to stop, even when emer­gency brakes are ap­plied – the dis­tance of 18 foot­ball fields.

The train you see is closer and faster-mov­ing than you think. If you see a train ap­proach­ing, wait for it to go by be­fore you pro­ceed across the tracks.

Stay alert. Trains can come from ei­ther di­rec­tion at any time and can be very quiet. Around train tracks or in sta­tions, obey all warn­ing signs and sig­nals and use cau­tion when us­ing head­sets or cell phones.

Al­ways ex­pect a train. This is es­pe­cially crit­i­cal where there are mul­ti­ple tracks be­cause the sound of one train can mask the sound of a sec­ond train com­ing on an­other set of tracks. Also, freight trains do not fol­low set sched­ules.

Cross the tracks only at ap­proved cross­ings. It is il­le­gal to cross rail­road tracks at any other lo­ca­tion. If walk­ing, you can put your­self at risk of trip­ping on rails or bal­last.

Do not try to beat a train at a cross­ing. It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to ac­cu­rately judge the dis­tance and speed of an on­com­ing train.

Do not stand close to the tracks. A train is at least three feet wider than the tracks on each side. Ad­di­tion­ally, a fast mov­ing train may kick up or drop de­bris.

Do not walk along tracks, on bridges or in tun­nels. You may not hear an ap­proach­ing train, and be­cause clear­ances in bridges and tun­nels can be tight, you may not be able to es­cape an ap­proach­ing train.

Don’t at­tempt to jump or climb on, over, un­der or in-be­tween rail equip­ment. Even an idle freight car can be dan­ger­ous.

Never drive around low­ered gates. It’s il­le­gal and deadly. If you sus­pect a sig­nal is mal­func­tion­ing, call the emer­gency num­ber posted on or near the cross­ing sig­nal or your lo­cal law en­force­ment agency.

Do not get trapped on the tracks. Pro­ceed through a high­way-rail grade cross­ing only if you are sure you can com­pletely clear the cross­ing with­out stop­ping. Re­mem­ber, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.

Do not stay in your ve­hi­cle if it stalls on the tracks. Get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Lo­cate the Emer­gency No­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem sign and call the num­ber pro­vided, telling them about the stalled ve­hi­cle. If a train is ap­proach­ing, run to­ward the train but away from the tracks at a 45 de­gree an­gle. If you run in the same di­rec­tion a train is trav­el­ing, you could be in­jured by fly­ing de­bris.

For more safety in­for­ma­tion, visit the Fed­eral Rail­road Ad­min­is­tra­tion at https://www.fra.dot.gov/ Page/P0841 or Op­er­a­tion Life­saver at https://oli.org/ or http://www.see­track­s­think­train.org/.

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