NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– This is national Rail Safety Week. You might already know that if you crossed some train tracks Tuesday morning. Police in 11 Connecticut cities and towns were handing out safety cards at railroad crossings.
On a busy day, traffic can back up from the red light on Sackett Point Road in North Haven. If a driver is not careful, he can find himself stopped right on the railroad tracks. That is what Amtrak Police Officers were out educating people not to do as part of Operation Clear Tracks.
This week, officers around the country are handing out safety cards with reminders such as: Never attempt to beat a train at a crossing. It is all part of Rail Safety Week that kicked off Monday.
“It’s fairly straightforward to keep yourself safe,” said Rich Andreski, Public Transportation Bureau Chief for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “Don’t stop on the tracks, don’t walk on the tracks, stay away from the tracks.”
You would think it is straightforward, but the head of Operation Lifesaver says someone is hit by a train every three hours.
“That’s every three hours,” repeated Rachel Maleh, the Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver. “That is a statistic that we are working hard every day to change to lower so that it’s zero.”
Detective Robert Hanson has been with Amtrak police for a dozen years.
“Working over 100 fatal trespasser-related incidents at grade crossings that we realize that every single one of these incidents is preventable,” Hanson said.
Trains can come at you so fast, you don’t always hear or see them. So anytime you see tracks, authorities want you to think train. Better yet, just stay away from the tracks. They are private property, so playing, walking, or taking pictures on the tracks is considered trespassing. Amtrak Police want you to not only obey those rules yourself.
“If you see suspicious activity, or if you see a trespasser, make that phone call to the Amtrak Police Department, or your local police department, because you could very well be saving somebody else’s life,” said Det. Hanson.
Railroad crossing safety is all on the pedestrians and drivers because trains certainly cannot swerve, and it can take a train as much as a mile to come to a complete stop once it hits the brakes.