Officers from Fairfax County (VA) Police and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police have been cracking down on people who illegally walk across railroad tracks Northern Virginia.
The Norfolk Southern Police are in the midst of a year-long Trespass Abatement Program and are focusing their efforts on five areas in Fairfax County in recent days. That is due to the high number of injuries and deaths in these areas in the last 24 months. The Norfolk Southern Police stated that there were three train track crossing fatalities involving pedestrians last year. Two of them were under 18.
This year, there have been no deaths, but one juvenile was injured by a passing train when he was illegally crossing the tracks by foot.
A major trouble spot is near Old Burke Lake Road. There, hundreds of students from Lake Braddock Secondary School cut across the tracks. Many of them are wearing earbuds and cannot hear the trains approaching either.
In many cases, the railroad company does not have properly functioning lights and gates at crossings, which can lead to injuries and fatalities. There were 637 train related deaths in the US in 2008, and many of them were pedestrians struck by trains.If the railroad companies would ensure that that the lights and gates at crossings are always in good repair, and they ensure that train engineers obey all safety regulations, these types of accidents would happen less often.
Below are some key tips to remember for all pedestrians near train tracks:
- Trains don’t always run on a precise schedule, so it is never ‘safe’ to cross a railroad track unless it is at a designated crossing. Of course, it is highly dangerous and illegal to walk on railroad tracks at any time.
- Do not make the assumption that you will hear the train coming. Many modern trains are much quieter than in past years.
- Walking across a train trestle is highly dangerous and illegal. There have been dozens of deaths at train trestles over the years. Don’t become part of those sad statistics.