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Rail Safety Week 2019 – Empowering The General Public

This week, September 23-29, 2019, is Rail Safety Week.  Today we are very happy to have the opportunity to interview Lorrie Johnston. Lorrie does amazing work promoting Rail Safety in Eastern Canada and Maine, USA.  Lorrie is the Operation LifeSaver, Maritime Safety Steering Committee Chair.

We at Higgins Insurance believe in education, prevention, and creating awareness, to help prevent injuries.  To that end, we invite you to read, and share, the following interview with Lorrie.  

PictureLorrie Johnston, NBM Railways

What is Rail Safety Week and what is the biggest message you hope to get across to the public?

Rail Safety Week is a National Campaign, the goal is to raise awareness of the need for rail safety education and empower the general public to keep themselves safe near railway property and trains.  2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured in railway crossing and trespassing incidents every year.   During this week Operation Lifesaver’s (OL) railway partners will be holding public outreach events across the country to promote the importance of rail safety.

In 2018 Canada Operation Lifesaver and US Operation Lifesaver partnered together and launched the first “Stop Track Tragedies” public awareness campaign to show the impact that rail-related incidents have on families and communities.  The videos are the latest addition to OL’s #StopTrackTragedies campaign.  Each video tells the story of someone personally affected by a rail crossing or trespassing incident – including victims, friends, family members, locomotive engineers, and first responders.

Our goal is to show that making an unsafe decision around tracks and trains – whether it’s to use tracks as a short cut, play on railway equipment or look at your cellphone at a crossing – can have devastating consequences for you, your loved ones, and members of your family.

Tells us more about Operation Lifesaver?

Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to preventing collisions at railway crossings and railway trespassing incidents in Canada. We believe the key to achieving this goal is public education.

Funded by the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada, we work with the rail industry, governments, law enforcement, labour groups, the media, and other organizations and communities from coast to coast to increase awareness about rail safety—because we believe rail safety is a shared responsibility.

Our dedicated staff and Rail Safety Ambassadors across the country educate Canadians of all ages through rail safety presentations to schools, youth clubs, driver associations, snowmobile and ATV clubs, and other community groups.

Educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding railway property and trains,  trying to prevent railway crossing and trespassing incidents that can lead to serious injuries or even death—because we believe even one incident is one too many.

Our success lies in our ability to reach Canadians of all ages and make them aware of the dangers surrounding railway crossings, as well as the serious risks associated with trespassing on railway property. To this end, we participate in various events, produce and distribute educational material, run driver education programs, hold safety presentations, and spread the rail safety message through traditional media and social media networks.

By working together, we are making Canadians more aware of the hazards around railway property.

Rail safety is a shared responsibility. Changing behavior around railway property—and saving lives—takes all three:

Enforcement (the laws that govern motorists’ and pedestrians’ responsibilities at rail crossings);
Engineering (the physical and operational improvements at crossings and on railway property); and
Education.  Together we promote the three E’s education, enforcement and engineering to keep people safe around the tracks and railway crossings within our communities.

Our mission is simple: We want to save lives.

Do you have any Railroad Safety tips ?

Whether you are on foot, in a car, or riding a bike or off-road vehicle, staying safe around railway tracks or property is all about knowing the rules. Follow these tips—they could save your life.

Never walk, cycle or drive along railway tracks. It’s hard to judge how far away a train is or what speed it’s travelling at. Trains can go as fast as 160 km/h and can take up to 2 kilometres to come to a complete stop. That’s the length of 18 football fields.

Railway yards, tunnels and bridges are all private property. If you are caught trespassing on them, you could be fined. But it isn’t just illegal to trespass on railway property—it’s extremely dangerous. Railway tunnels and bridges are often only slightly wider than the rails, leaving little to no room for you if a train does come along.

Always cross railway tracks at designated crossings. Trying to cross tracks anywhere else could be deadly. Remember, trains can come at any time, from either direction, and on any track. They also don’t always run on a set schedule.

Obey all railway signs and warning devices, such as lights, bells and gates. Before proceeding through a crossing, look both ways and listen for approaching trains. If a train is coming, or railway warning signals are activated, stop behind any gates or stop lines—or no closer than 5 metres away from the nearest rail—and wait for the train to pass. Cross only after the warning signals have ceased and you are certain no other trains are approaching, from either direction, on any track.

You can’t avoid getting struck by a train if you can’t hear it or see it coming. Today’s trains are extremely quiet, so don’t be distracted by cell phones or other devices when behind the wheel or in the vicinity of a railway crossing. Although trains sound their whistles at most crossings, or in the case of an emergency, you won’t hear the warning if you are wearing headphones.

Trains can overhang the tracks by as much as 1 metre on each side. They can also carry loads that are wider than the railway cars themselves. So, stay clear. You could also get hit by chains, straps or other equipment if you are too close.

Is there ever a safe time to walk across a train bridge?

No, there is never a safe time to walk across a train bridge.  Train bridges are for trains NOT for people, a train can come in any direction at any time leaving you no room and left without many options – outrun the train or jump – people have been injured and killed both ways.  Stay off of train bridges, it’s not safe and it’s trespassing.

We invite you to join us in observing Rail Safety Week, September 22 -28, 2019.  Together, we can save families and communities from enduring heartbreaking tragedies.  Numbers don’t tell the whole story.  See the real impact at StopTrackTragedies.ca

Thank You Lorrie Johnston at NBM Railways (Safety, Security & Community Relations) for the wonderful job that you do each day. We at Higgins Insurance appreciate your expertise and knowledge.

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