WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut transportation officials kicked off National Rail Safety Week Monday morning at the Wallingford train station.
When that bell starts clanging, and those lights start flashing, you know what you’re supposed to do, and yet, last year in Connecticut alone, ten people were killed by trains. That is why officials take this week each September to raise awareness about how dangerous trains can be.
“People have the myth they think they’ll hear a train coming if they’re on the train tracks,” said Kevin Burns of Connecticut’s Department of Transportation. “Trains can be very quiet. You won’t hear it. Especially today, youths out there are always wearing headphones or earbuds.”
Officials said you should never walk on train tracks. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s also illegal, as it’s technically trespassing.
“Never try to outrun a train,” CT DOT’s Deputy Commissioner Laoise King said. “It takes a train a mile to slow to a stop, so this is a race you cannot win.”
Railroad crossings are another dangerous spot, especially with a traffic light nearby. Traffic can get backed up by the light, and cars coming along might only get across the tracks after encountering that backed-up traffic.
“Don’t commit unless you can fit. Unless you can clear the train tracks, don’t drive across,” Burns said. “Don’t stop on the train tracks. If it’s heavy traffic, give yourself some extra room.”
In previous years, police handed out safety pamphlets during rail safety week at crossings. That will happen again this year.
“Unfortunately, in Wallingford, we’ve seen our fair share of accidents and collisions that resulted in loss of life,” Wallingford Police Chief John Ventura said.
On average, somewhere in America, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours.