Drivers Multitasking Near Train Tracks Face Disaster

WASHINGTON, DC, December 16, 2009 – Addressing growing national concerns about distracted driving, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (www.oli.org) is promoting awareness of rail safety for motorists with two new video public service announcements (PSAs) targeted to younger drivers. The 30-second spots illustrate how distraction leads to danger as multitasking drivers fail to notice that they are approaching highway-rail grade crossings. (View a distracted driving PSA on Bryan Police Departments web site ) “Cell phones, texting and other distractions can cause people to pay inadequate attention to the road and at highway-rail intersections,” noted Operation Lifesaver, Inc.  President Helen M. Sramek.  “Our new PSAs remind drivers to stay focused, especially near train tracks. These days, drivers face multiple sources of distraction both inside their vehicles — like satellite radios, DVD players and navigation systems — as well as outside their vehicles. All can have deadly consequences, because there is no second chance if you meet a train at a crossing.”

Last year there were more than 2,400 vehicle-train collisions nationwide at highway-rail grade crossings, resulting in more than 1,200 deaths or injuries. Federal statistics also show that inattentive drivers contribute to approximately three percent of all vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings; another 20 percent of grade crossing collisions involve motor vehicles striking trains at a crossing.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made distracted driving a top government highway safety priority.

Top Five Driving Safety Tips Around Train Tracks

1.    Always expect a train at any crossing – avoid all distractions.   
2.    Do not get trapped on the tracks: only proceed through the crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping.
3.    Because of their size and weight, trains can’t stop quickly – they can take up to a mile or more to stop.
4.    If you see a train approaching, stop; it is actually closer and moving faster than it appears.  At multiple track crossings, watch out for a second train approaching from either direction.
5.    If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks.  Look for an emergency number at the crossing to notify authorities to stop any on-coming trains, or, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency for assistance.

About Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. is a national, non-profit safety education group whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights of way. Operation Lifesaver has programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with trained and certified presenters. They provide free safety talks to community groups, school bus drivers, truck drivers and student drivers to raise awareness around railroad tracks and trains. For more information, and to request a free safety presentation, visit www.oli.org.

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