LITCHFIELD – The state of Illinois has declared Sept. 14-20 as Illinois Rail Safety Week to promote vehicle and pedestrian safety around railroad tracks and trains.
In Illinois during 2013, there were 126 crossing collisions involving motor vehicles, which resulted in 40 injuries and 21 fatalities. In addition, there were 52 trespasser incidents that resulted in 27 injuries and 25 fatalities when people trespassed on railroad property. During 2013, Illinois ranked third in the nation in vehicle collision fatalities and trespasser fatalities.
To promote rail safety awareness and education, Illinois State Police will participate in Illinois Rail Safety Week. Enforcement details are planned throughout the week at railroad grade crossings and commuter stations to cite drivers and pedestrians who disobey the laws associated with railroad grade crossings and railroad property. In addition, police officers will distribute literature that contains information on how to be safe around trains and train tracks.
Not only is it against the law to stop vehicles on railroad tracks, it is illegal to stop vehicles anywhere within the highway-rail grade crossing. Highway-rail grade crossings are typically marked by white stop lines on the pavement in advance of the crossing, and if not marked by white stop lines, the highway-rail grade crossing extends from protective gate arm to protective gate arm.
According to Illinois Operation Lifesaver, more than 50 percent of collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (flashing lights, gates and ringing bells). When crossing railroad tracks, you must always obey the law and be aware of your surroundings.
Rail Safety Week is supported by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Operation Lifesaver, Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association.
For information about Illinois Rail Safety Week, visit www.illinoisrailsafetyweek.org.