Driving over railroad tracks at level crossings—or grade crossings, as they’re also known—is an everyday occurrence and most of us don’t give it much thought: Just a quick bump and it’s over. And the experience might be even less memorable if a driver is distracted by food, music, or a smartphone.
The global rail community is out to change that, educating travelers about the dangers of railroad tracks during the 13th Annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD). Held on June 10 this year, the annual event aims to raise awareness of the hazards of grade crossings, with the end goal of reducing needless fatalities. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that 95% of all rail-related deaths are preventable, especially where a driver has gone around warning devices or a person has walked on the tracks.
This year’s ILCAD focuses on the role that distraction—particularly from mobile devices—can play in those grade-crossing and pedestrian incidents. In keeping with that theme, the safety group Operation Lifesaver (OLI) marked the event by launching a “Near Miss” campaign aimed at increasing awareness among young people about the importance of avoiding distractions near railroad tracks.The Association of American Railroads (AAR) also joined the global rail community in observing ILCAD. “Together, we can prevent tragedies on the tracks,” AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said in a release. “As railroads continue to improve the safety of grade crossings, initiatives like International Level Crossing Awareness Day are vital to ensuring the public knows how to stay safe near the tracks. Every time you see railroad tracks, stop, look, and listen.”