Freight rail industry commemorates International Level Crossing Awareness Day

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) joins the international rail transportation community in educating the public about the dangers of railroad grade crossings during the 8th Annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) today, June 10, 2016.

Some of the nation’s largest freight railroads, more than 40 countries and numerous international railroad organizations and companies are marking ILCAD with events throughout the country and around the world. This year’s theme, “Life is Worth Living,” focuses on raising public awareness among senior citizens and persons with sensory and mobility restrictions.

“The freight rail industry believes there is no greater priority than safety and federal statistics show rail safety has been dramatically improving over the last three decades with a decrease in grade crossing collisions in 2015,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Unfortunately, there are still too many fatalities that occur at grade crossings and virtually all of them are preventable. Grade crossing safety is an ongoing focus, but freight railroads support initiatives, like International Level Crossing Awareness Day, that are designed to focus people’s attention on the inherent dangers around grade crossings.”

Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) show that U.S. grade crossing collisions fell by 7.6% to 2,280 in 2015 from 2,096 in 2014; grade crossing-related fatalities also dropped 7.6% to 244 from 264 in 2014; and trespass injuries fell 4.3% to 398 from 416 in 2014.

America’s railroads are partnering with local law enforcement agencies, community leaders and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) to bring attention to grade crossing safety and awareness in more than 15 states. Some of this year’s events include: distribution of literature about railroad safety, a “Chalk One Up for Safety” drawing contest, “Officer on a Train” rides where law enforcement officers observe motorist, pedestrian and cyclist behavior at crossings and presentations from OLI that feature the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign, developed in conjunction with the AAR. Educating the public about grade crossing safety, remaining active on the FRA’s grade crossing task force and working closely with state transportation departments are all preventative steps that railroads are taking to bring the industry closer to the goal of zero grade crossing fatalities.

To celebrate ILCAD 2016 internationally, Latvian Railways, Operation Lifesaver Estonia and the International Union of Railways will host an international conference in Riga, Latvia titled “How to improve safety at and around level crossings.” The organizations will also join experts from different sectors and countries on a technical visit to Tallinn, Estonia. During the conference, participants will discuss awareness, engineering, inspection, risk management and cooperation between railroads and infrastructure managers, local authorities and the media.

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.


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