CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The West Virginia Emergency Management Division is raising awareness of safe choices near railroad tracks.
WVEMD is teaming up with law enforcement for “Operation Clear Track” for this year’s annual Rail Safety Week. Coordinated by Amtrak Police and Operation Lifesaver Inc, Operation Clear Track aims to reduce the approximately 2,000 serious injuries and deaths each year in the U.S. around railroad tracks and trains.
“Safety awareness for those in vehicles or on foot at rail crossings is vital, but so is pedestrian safety on the tracks.” said Dr. William Minear, chief of the EMD Response & Infrastructure Protection section. “Anything limiting a pedestrian’s ability to hear an approaching train, like ear buds or headphones, can lead to a preventable tragedy.”
“In the U.S., every three hours a vehicle or person is struck by a train,” said Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “Together we can help stop track tragedies.”
West Virginia Emergency Management officials encourage everyone to stay alert and stay off railroad tracks.
“It’s not a forefront thing in people’s minds,” Minear said. “I mean we see trains come and go and we take it as second nature. You know, West Virginia is a rural state, and you’ll find a lot of folks, especially in the rural areas that’ll use the rail system as a hiking trail, as a walking trail, as a running trail and in today’s day in age with technology and use of iPhone and ear bud’s folks will put them in and listen to music going down the tracks. In fact, some of the accidents we had led that way that folk weren’t aware the train was coming because it was an out of sight out of mind thing.”
For more information about Rail Safety Week, Operation Clear Track, and other rail safety initiatives and tips visit here.