March 30, 2020
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To bring attention to dangerous distractions that could lead to unexpected and sometimes deadly tragedies for pedestrians on or near railroad tracks, the rail safety non-profit Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) is launching a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign.

[Above photo via OLI.]

“Walking on the railroad tracks is considered trespassing – it’s against the law,” said Rachel Maleh, OLI’s executive director, in a statement. “This new PSA demonstrates, in a very compelling way, the potential dangers pedestrians put themselves in by being distracted and walking on or too close to the tracks.”

Maleh noted that funding for the PSA, its initial digital distribution, and a pilot project with major railroads in Cook County, Illinois, to track near miss pedestrian-train incidents came from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) with a grant from the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh providing further financial support for this safety campaign.

Rachel Maleh

“We want people to know that there are real and tragic consequences when people choose to walk on the railroad tracks. Near miss incidents are preventable, as are trespass casualties and death,” she added. “This new PSA campaign is intended to bring attention to the issue and encourage pedestrians to make life-saving decisions near the tracks.”

OLI said it developed this new PSA in response to increases in railroad trespass incidents. The group said FRA’s preliminary statistics indicate 1,014 total trespassing injuries and deaths occurred in 2018, on par with the 1,014 incidents in 2017; but both are higher than the 946 incidents tallied for 2016.

editor@aashto.org

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