September 24, 2019 Amtrak Police and Operation Lifesaver Mobilize Largest Railroad Safety Operation During Rail Safety Week 2019

Law enforcement officials issue citations and warnings to violators

WASHINGTON – The Amtrak Police Department and Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), the national railroad safety education organization today mobilized more than 600 police and sheriff’s departments across the country for “Operation Clear Track,” the largest railroad safety detail in the United States. The third annual law enforcement initiative is one of several events to mark Rail Safety Week, which runs from September 22-28 nationwide.

“This Rail Safety Week, we ask that you think beyond the danger you put yourself in when trespassing on railroad property and give some thought to the families, communities, railroad employees and all others traumatized by this careless behavior,” said Amtrak Police Chief Neil Trugman. “Please obey your state grade crossing and trespassing laws, too many lives depend on it.”

During “Operation Clear Track” police and sheriff’s officials will report to more than 1,500 railroad grade crossings throughout communities around the country during a three-hour period to enforce state grade crossing and trespassing laws and to issue citations and warnings to violators. Last year, this rail safety detail issued more than 2,500 citations along with 4,313 written and verbal warnings, plus 34 arrests.

In addition, law enforcement officials this year are expected to distribute more than 350,000 pocket safety cards to motorists and pedestrians to teach the public how to be safe around railroad tracks and crossings. According to OLI, each year thousands of people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide.  

“Every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train,” said Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “While we have made strides in reducing deaths and injuries, the goal of Operation Clear Track and other Rail Safety Week activities is raising awareness to save lives. Operation Clear Track has been an important part of Rail Safety Week since it began in 2017.” 

Operation Lifesaver Canada officials will take part in “Operation Clear Track” for the first time this year to help reduce the number of grade crossing and trespassing incidents that occur in their country. 

“We want to remind people that a split-second decision to try to beat a train at a crossing, or to use tracks at a shortcut or a recreational path, can have tragic consequences,” said Sarah Mayes, National Director, Operation Lifesaver Canada. “We’re pleased that so many Canadian law enforcement agencies are partnering with us, through ‘Operation Clear Track,’ to reinforce that message this year.”

In recognition of Rail Safety Week, Operation Lifesaver has initiated the  STOP TRACK TRAGEDIES campaign, focusing on real-life railroad incidents.   

This collaborative national railroad safety initiative is one of several events scheduled during Rail Safety Week, which is being conducted from Sept. 22 – 28 in the United States and Sept. 23 – 29 in Canada . For more information on railroad safety, visit oli.org and stayoffthetracks.org.

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Beth K. Toll

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