Risky business: Trespassers are in danger on the railway tracks | Heralrepublican

KENDALLVILLE — According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Indiana ranked 14th nationally in 2021 for pedestrian deaths and injuries caused by trespassing on railroad tracks and property.

Already this year, the region has seen two such incidents, both of which resulted in death.

In the first incident, a Fort Wayne man, Bradley Wayne Boggs, 64, died March 12 at 11:15 a.m. near train tracks south of Spencerville. Police say Boggs was hit by a train while walking about 1 1/2 miles from where his car broke down.

Tragically, Boggs had refused a run from an Allen County Sheriff’s officer just 30 minutes before he was struck.

Most recently, 18-year-old Logan Schambers of Avilla was killed April 15 in a 3:30 a.m. crash just west of Hicksville, Ohio, where he had been a former resident. The investigation continues to find out why he was on the CSX tracks.

CSX released this statement by spokesperson Sheriee Bowman:

“Public safety is a priority at CSX, and the company works closely with its employees, communities and industry partners on education and awareness programs designed to end collisions, fatalities and injuries at level crossings and on railway tracks. Level crossings are where people most often interact with trains and, unfortunately, accidents between trains and pedestrians or vehicles are all too common. Approximately every 3 hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is struck by a train.

“With our partners at the non-profit organization Operation Lifesaver, we work hard to raise awareness of the dangers of train tracks and how to cross them safely. Ignoring warning signs and signals at railroad crossings is not only illegal, it’s extremely dangerous – walking on train tracks even more so. Railroad workers and first responders know this all too well, as they witness the tragic consequences that can occur when safety precautions are ignored.

“We believe that education and awareness are the best tools to prevent accidents and injuries, and we are committed to reaching as many people as possible. For more rail safety tips and materials that can be shared with family and friends, visit OLI.org.

Risky business

All rail tracks are privately owned, as are rail yards, sidings, and laydowns. Trespassing on railway property is illegal at all times and extremely dangerous.

Pedestrians, hunters, joggers and all-terrain vehicle drivers put themselves at great risk when they give in to the temptation to walk or ride on or near railway tracks. Texting on the phone, wearing headphones, inattentiveness, or other distractions increase the risk to pedestrians, who may not hear or see the oncoming train.

Pedestrians and motorists often visually mistake the size and speed of an approaching train, which is always faster and closer than it appears. Pedestrians assume they will hear a “click-clack” or train horn if a train is approaching, but modern trains are quieter than in the past.

The average locomotive weighs around 200 tons (400,000 pounds) and can weigh up to 6,000 tons. According to Operation Lifesaver Inc., a nonprofit public safety education organization dedicated to reducing rail accidents and collisions, the weight ratio of a train to a car is the same as a car to a aluminum soda can.

Trains have priority 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, police and pedestrians. A train can NEVER stop in time to avoid hitting a vehicle or person on the tracks. The average train traveling at 55 mph takes over a mile – the length of 18 football fields – to come to a stop.

Pedestrians may also assume they are far enough away from the tracks to be safe. A train can extend 3 feet or more on either side of the parallel tracks, so the safe zone is well beyond, away from the tracks.

Safety first

Indiana Operation Lifesaver is part of a national, nonprofit organization that promotes railroad safety through public awareness campaigns and education initiatives, including free safety presentations by licensed volunteers.

OL representatives speak to school groups, driving lessons, community audiences, professional drivers, law enforcement officers, emergency responders and others. The program is co-sponsored by state and local government agencies, traffic safety organizations, US railroads and other entities.

Operation Lifesaver works with these organizations to promote the three Es — education, law enforcement and engineering — to keep people safe around tracks and crossings in their communities.

Indiana Operation Lifesaver offers these pedestrian safety tips:

• Always expect a train. The trains are quieter and faster than you might think, can run on any track, at any time, in either direction, and do not run on schedule.

• Walking on or near railway tracks is illegal.

• The only safe place to cross tracks is at public crossings designated with a cross, flashing red lights or gate. Crossing anywhere else is illegal.

• Crossing roads on a bicycle, with a pushchair, in a wheelchair or on other narrow wheels requires caution and special attention. Plan ahead when choosing a route. As far as possible, walk, do not ride on the tracks. Cyclists, ride your bike on the train tracks at a 90 degree angle. If you are in a wheelchair, consider getting assistance or taking an alternate route.

• Never pass flashing lights and never drive around lowered gates. Always wait for the lights to stop flashing and the barriers to be fully raised.

• Wait to cross until you can see clearly in both directions. Multiple tracks can mean multiple trains.

• Stay away from railway bridges and trestles. Stay away from railway tunnels. There is only room for the train.

• Do not attempt to board railroad equipment at any time. Trains, tracks and rail yards are NOT playgrounds. Never climb over, under or through railroad cars. Never get on or off a train while it is moving.

On Thursday alone, the nationwide Operation Lifesaver Inc. and the Federal Highway Administration announced that Indiana Operation Lifesaver was among grant recipients in 11 states for rail safety public education programs.

The grants will fund a variety of level crossing safety public education projects, many of which will be conducted in conjunction with the non-profit safety group’s celebration of Rail Safety Week, September 19-25. 2022.

According to a press release, Indiana Operation Lifesaver will use OLI’s shift worker public service announcement in a targeted geofencing, geofarming and social conquest campaign to reach hospital workers, police, first responders, paramedics, manufacturing workers, and truck drivers in high-incident counties.

Safety blitzes will also be conducted in these areas to distribute brochures and branded coolers to shift workers. The campaign will run from July to September 2022 and will include additional coverage during Rail Safety Week.

how to help

If you witness suspicious activity, dangerous situations or emergencies at or near railroad crossings, you can help by reporting them to local law enforcement or railroad companies.

South Norfolk Transport

Norfolk Southern operates east to west rail routes via Butler, Waterloo, La Coruña, Kendallville, Wawaka and Ligonier. A second NS line runs northeast to southwest through Butler, St. Joe, Spencerville, Grabill, and Fort Wayne.

Report suspicious activity and potentially dangerous situations to Norfolk Southern Police at 1-800-453-2530 or your local police department. You can also report activity by joining Protect the Line, Nova Scotia’s citizen reporting program. Members of this community outreach initiative monitor potential safety issues and report issues directly to the Nova Scotia Police. Citizens can also make reports to [email protected]

Here’s what to report: items left on or near tracks and infrastructure; mechanical problems with moving trains, such as sparks or smoke; equipment problems, such as loose bands, tilted trailers or railcars, and open top loaded railcars, truck trailers or containers; Vandalism; suspicious activities or individuals; and trespassing on railway property, including fishing, walking, jogging, biking or hunting on the tracks.

CSX Transportation

CSX operates east-west rail lines through St. Joe, Auburn, Garrett, Altona, Avilla, Albion and Cromwell. To report an emergency on CSX rails, call 1-800-232-0144 and give the name, location and nature of the emergency, or call the local police. For non-emergency situations, email TellCSX.

Northeast Indiana Railroad

Indiana Northeastern Railroad is a Norfolk Southern-affiliated railroad headquartered in Hillsdale, Michigan, with rail lines in Steuben County. Its lines pass through Hamilton, Ashley, Hudson and Helmer, and north through Angola and Fremont. Call 911 or local police to report an emergency.

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