Aug 29, 2013 3:18 PM by MELISSA CANONE
Union Pacific Railroad reminds drivers and pedestrians to use caution at railroad crossings while traveling during Labor Day weekend.
"Labor Day is a special time for gathering with family and friends, and we urge the public to use caution as they approach and cross railroad tracks," said Dale Bray, Union Pacific director-public safety. "Always expect a train and obey all railroad warnings when traveling during this holiday weekend."
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 271 people died and 930 were injured in 2012 as a result of grade crossing incidents across the United States. The Department of Transportation studied accident reports over a 10-year period and found 94 percent of public grade crossing accidents were caused by risky driver behavior, such as driving around activated automatic gates. Union Pacific urges drivers and pedestrians to use caution near railroad tracks and offers the following rail safety tips:
• Expect a train and look both ways before crossing railroad tracks.
• Wait for trains and do not attempt to beat approaching trains.
• Avoid getting trapped on the railroad tracks by ensuring there is enough room on the other side for your vehicle to completely clear the tracks.
• Pedestrians should only cross the tracks at designated railroad crossings. (Where the street intersects with the tracks).
• Never walk between the rails in other areas that are not designated railroad crossings.
• Avoid distractions such as loud music, texting or talking on cell phones when crossing the railroad tracks.
Union Pacific has a companywide focus on safety and proactive public education through its Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety Program, called U.P. CARES. The program educates residents of the more than 7,000 communities where Union Pacific operates of the need for caution around railroad tracks. These efforts have helped Union Pacific reduce grade crossing incidents by 37 percent across its rail network since 2001. U.P. CARES initiatives promote pedestrian and driver safety through a variety of outreach efforts:
• Grade crossing education and enforcement, during which motorists violating rail crossing signage and laws are educated about the dangers of such actions. Related "positive enforcement" initiatives reward drivers who operate safely at grade crossings.
• Safety trains, which host local law enforcement, media and public officials and provide them the opportunity to ride in the locomotive cab and see traffic violations from a locomotive engineer's point of view. This activity also allows Union Pacific to connect with community leaders and help them better understand the railroad's focus on safety.
• Communication blitzes, which educate the public via community events, media outreach and paid advertising. Media outreach coincides with safety trains in UP communities.