Just about every cause, hobby and activity has a day, week or month named for it – for instance, there’s even a National Ballroom Dancing Week, which happens to be this week.
Another more serious cause that has its own week this week is rail safety – and advocates of that cause across North Carolina are coming together (virtually, at least) to attempt to reduce deaths on and around train tracks in the state.
North Carolina Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization that’s working to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-railroad crossings – as well as working to prevent trespassing near railroad tracks in the interest of safety.
This week, a national network of trained volunteers is giving free presentations on rail safety as part of a public awareness campaign called, “See Tracks? Think Train!” The learning session provides tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. There will be other parts of the public awareness effort as well, including social media initiatives and ad spots carried in other media.
According to stats provided by the organization, every year 2,100 people in North America were killed or seriously injured by engaging in unsafe behavior around tracks and trains. Across North Carolina every year, around 30 people are killed or injured crossing tracks or trespassing near them.
North Carolina Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Margaret Cannell said in a press release: “We are kicking off the week today with a state Rail Safety Week proclamation from Governor Cooper. We also will connect with North Carolina communities virtually by sharing rail safety messages about making safe choices around trains and tracks.”
As part of Rail Safety Week, the organization is releasing video and audio public service announcements. The campaign – called #STOPTrackTragedies – features videos with personal stories of people directly affected by rail crossing or trespassing incidents – including victims, friends and family members, locomotive engineers and first responders.
Points of emphasis will include making the public aware of the importance of following crossing safety rules and obeying anti-trespass laws. There will also be outreach on safe crossing techniques and how to stay safe as a rail commuter or transit rider. In addition, there will be education for pedestrians about the dangers posed by walking on or near the tracks.
The full campaign can be viewed at oli.org/stop-track-tragedies.