In the past, it appeared that things were finally changing for the better, with a steady decrease in the number of tragic, horrific deaths happening due to a collision between a person – walking or in a car, truck, or minivan – and huge, heavy, moving locomotive. Things have changed.
In 2010, there was a twenty percent (20%) increase in the number of Illinois fatalities due to train accidents. This is a huge, significant jump. What’s going on?
Railroad accidents usually result in death. The responsibility of the train tracks themselves, as well as the warning systems, is not with the government but with the owner of the railroad. The state governments are each responsible for their roadways leading up to the crossing. Needless to say, money plays a big factor in how safe railroad crossings are in America today. Railroad companies are watching their bottom line, and we all know the dire straits of 2011’s Illinois budget (see our previous post on cutting public services).
Operation Lifesaver is getting involved.
Operation Lifesaver is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of railroad accidents and train fatalities. From its website:
Operation Lifesaver’s mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on rail property through a nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety. Our national office in Alexandria, VA, supports state programs, developing videos, educational brochures, instructional information and other materials for audiences of all ages. Our state coordinators are located in all 50 states.
Already, the Illinois office of Operation Lifesaver has begun a media blitz aimed to educate everyone in Illinois about the dangers of any crash with a train – especially when you’re in a hurry, and thinking you are going to be able to scoot over the tracks and beat the train. We applaud them for their efforts, and hope this post in some small way assists them in getting the word out about this growing danger to us all.
Here’s a video from their latest awareness campaign: