WELLS, Maine — Rail Safety Week runs from Sept. 22-28 nationwide and is intended to raise awareness about railroad safety and trespassing.
The Wells Police Department joined more than 600 police and sheriff’s departments across the country on Tuesday, Sept. 24, to participate in "Operation Clear Track." It's the largest railroad safety detail in the United States.
During "Operation Clear Track" police and sheriff’s officials will report to more than 1,500 railroad grade crossings throughout communities around the country to enforce state grade crossing and trespassing laws and to issue citations and warnings to violators.
In Wells, officers monitored the Burnt Mill Road crossing and the Bragdon Road crossing throughout the day.
Sergeant Chad Arrowsmith was at the Burnt Mill Road crossing from 8 a.m. to noon.
Arrowsmith says the best thing people can do to protect themselves around railways is to take safety into their own hands.
"You just assume the [safety] arm will go down when a train goes by. It could be malfunctioning. The safest thing you can do is put your windows down and listen. If you stop and listen and look both ways, it will take you just a few extra seconds, but it could save your life."
Arrowsmith stopped cars and distributed "pocket safety cards" to motorists and pedestrians to teach the public how to be safe around railroad tracks and crossings.
Here are some of the guidelines listed on the pocket safety cards:
- Never drive or walk around lowered gates.
- Never stop your vehicle on railway tracks while waiting for traffic to move.
- Never begin to drive across the tracks unless you know you can make it all the way across.
- Always slow down and stop prior to train tracks when lights begin to flash.
In regards to railroad trespassing, the pocket safety cards included these guidelines:
- Never walk, run, play or take pictures on a railroad. If you are on or near the tracks, remember you are trespassing on private property and breaking the law
- Never attempt to outrun an approaching train. It can take a train a mile or more to stop.
- Only cross the tracks at designated public crossings.
According to Operation Lifesaver, Inc. data, thousands of people are killed or injured in grade crossing and trespassing incidents nationwide each year.
Railroad-related stories on NEWSCENTERmaine.com: