Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Freight railroads mark 4th Annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
  • Print
  • Email
Freight railroads mark 4th Annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day William C. Vantuono

The Association of American Railroads on June 7 will join with the international rail transportation community to raise awareness among motorists and pedestrians about the dangers of railroad grade crossings during the 4th Annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD).

 Major U.S. freight railroads will host ILCAD events across the U.S., while more than 42 countries and numerous international railroad organizations and companies will host events worldwide with a focus on the common message: “Act safely at level crossings!”

“For railroads, nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and the communities through which we operate,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Grade crossing fatalities have declined 70% since 1980, but too many still occur, which is why events such as International Level Crossing Awareness Day and government programs such as the Federal Highway Administration’s Section 130 program for states are critical to achieving the rail industry’s goal of zero fatalities.”

In the U.S., freight railroads are hosting grade crossing safety and awareness events and promotions in 16 states, including “Officer on a Train,” where law enforcement officers are invited to ride on trains and observe motorist behavior at crossings; train safety displays in stations; participation in local television shows and children’s programs; distribution of literature about railroad safety, and a safety program targeting truck drivers in the Chicago area.

“U.S. railroads have led the international community in promoting grade crossing safety and spend several hundred million dollars each year to maintain grade crossings and to educate the public on grade crossing safety,” said AAR

Planned international activities include a conference in Paris with rail and road stakeholders and behavioral experts that will be broadcast around the world; an exhibition of posters produced from a worldwide contest for children on grade crossing safety, and promotion of the “ILCAD 2012” video. The ILCAD Campaign was established in 2009 by the international railroad community in conjunction with various highway organizations, the European Commission, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), to raise awareness among road users and pedestrians of the risks at grade crossings. To date, more than 40 countries around the world have participated in ILCAD.

One such effort is CSX’s “Play It Safe” public safety campaign, which is tied to an associate sponsorship of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team, the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/CSX Play It Safe Chevrolet Impala driven by Regan Smith (pictured).

CSX and Regan Smith kicked off Train Safety Awareness Week on June 4 by reminding people to stay away from railroad tracks and use caution at grade crossings.

 “I urge drivers to always expect a train at a grade crossing, and I ask parents and kids to talk about the need to stay away from railroad tracks,” said Smith. “One incident is one too many, and getting the word out about staying off railroad property can help avoid needless tragedies.”

This year, CSX partnered with Furniture Row Racing to sponsor Smith and the “Play It Safe” campaign, designed to help educate people about the importance of safety around railroad tracks. At selected races, Smith’s No. 78 racecar bears a bumper sticker that says “I Brake for Trains,” reminding the public to stop at railroad crossings and obey any signs or warning signals.

“Safety is a way of life at CSX. As the summer months bring warmer weather and outdoor activities, it’s important to remember the dangers associated with trespassing on railroad property and to use caution around railroad crossings,” said Jim Marks, vice president of safety, CSX. “We remind everyone not to stop, walk, or play on the tracks or near crossings.

To continue educating communities about the importance of safety around railroad tracks, CSX is hosting events around its network to commemorate Train Safety Awareness Week, including safety blitzes in many communities, training classes for first responders, safety train trips, and awareness classes.

 CSX also continues its partnership with Operation Lifesaver, “which has been an important factor in significant reductions in crossing collisions—from 12,000 in 1972 to fewer than 2,000 in 2011,” CSX said. “Other important factors include vegetation control to improve visibility, and, with support from public officials, closing unnecessary and redundant crossings.”

ILCAD 2012 “aims to educate people everywhere about the need to exercise caution at rail crossings,” AAR said. For more on information on ILCAD, visit:

For more information on CSX’s safe rail practices and the railroad’s commitment to serving the communities in which it operates, visit: www.beyond

Also visit Railway Age’s special website on CSX’s sponsorship of Regan Smith and Furniture Row Racing: I BRAKE FOR TRAINS.

Get the latest rail news

Rail news and analysis from Railway Age, IRJ and RT&S by email