RALEIGH - Governor Pat McCrory has proclaimed May as “Rail Safety Awareness Month” to encourage safety on and around North Carolina’s railroad tracks. Since the beginning of this year, 12 people have died on North Carolina’s railroad tracks, an unusually high number of fatalities in such a short span of time.
“One death on our railways is one too many, and we need to stop this troubling increase in railroad fatalities,” said Governor McCrory. “We urge everyone to put safety first and use caution when approaching railroad crossings, avoid trespassing on the tracks and always yield to oncoming trains.”
Last month, NCDOT partnered with local law enforcement, railroad police and other officials in Fayetteville to conduct the first of several “Crossing Safety Blitzes” planned for the coming months. During the blitz, officials passed out cards with rail safety tips and guidelines in English and Spanish to motorists at designated intersections.
“We are stepping up our rail safety efforts to help curb train-related crashes and fatalities and remind everyone that they need to stay off the tracks,” said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata.
Other safety blitzes will be held in May, June and July in Charlotte, Greensboro and Dunn, respectively, at some of the crossings with the highest number of train-car collisions in the state. The May 7 blitz in Charlotte will coincide with International Level Crossing Awareness Day, a worldwide recognition of the importance of safety at level railroad crossings, known in the United States as at-grade crossings.
In February, Secretary Tata facilitated a Rail Safety Roundtable with the state’s railroad leaders to discuss ways to keep motorists from bypassing crossing gates and pedestrians from trespassing on the tracks. He also plans to partner with N.C.Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan to host a Rail Safety Summit in June that will bring together law enforcement and community groups to address how to improve rail safety and help save lives.
These efforts complement NCDOT’s ongoing “Be Rail Safe” program aimed at preventing accidents and injuries on North Carolina’s railways, as well as its other safety, education and training programs.
The state is also working with the railroads and groups like North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, a public information and education program aimed at teaching rail safety to North Carolinians, to promote rail safety during the month of May and beyond.
North Carolina has more than 3,300 miles of railroad tracks used by passenger and freight trains as an important means of transporting people and goods throughout the state.