IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — About every five days a child dies from a train accident, according to Justin Jacob from Union Pacific.
It’s statistics like these that have motivated Union Pacific and Safe Kids Worldwide to partner for Rail Safety Week.
“Rail Safety Week is important because it brings light to the issue around railroad safety and all the incidents that we’re trying to prevent,” Kristen Rosenthal with Safe Kids Worldwide told KID NewsRadio. “Last year alone, there were 75 children that were killed due to a collision with a train.”
The partnership, Union Pacific Communications Director Justin Jacobs, told KID NewsRadio, allows both organizations to drive home a message of safety especially as kids are back in school and photographers gear up for dance, family and team photos.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be able to partner with Safe Kids as well, because they absolutely help enhance many of the things we are trying to do and already doing in the communities we support and serve across our network,” Justin Jacobs, Communications Director for Union Pacific, told KID NewsRadio.
To date, plenty of safety measures are employed by rail lines to prevent tragedies on the tracks. But, Rosenthal said gates, flashing lights and designated crossings are only as protective as the person who chooses to obey them.
“It’s up to the person to protect themselves,” Rosenthal said. “They need to pay attention so many times, you know, someone’s distracted. Either they’re on the track taking selfies or they’re in their vehicle distracted…a train can not stop in time. If the train can see you, it’s too late, so people have to be vigilant for themselves and make sure to pay attention.”
Train tracks are a popular spot for family portraits or homecoming dance photos. But, both Jacobs and Rosenthal say a photo is never worth risking life.
“Taking photos on or around railroad tracks is extremely dangerous,” Jacobs said. “We’ve unfortunately seen incidents where photographers, models, all of the above have been injured or killed, you know, engaging in those types of activities and it’s just extremely unsafe.”
Even something simple as a selfie could be deadly, Rosenthal said. A train can’t stop on a dime, Jacobs added, and takes a mile to completely stop going at just 55 miles per hour.
“Always to be alert near railroad crossings and stop for approaching trains,” Rosenthal said. “If the lights are flashing and the gates are going down. Do not try to beat the train, always stop and wait for the trains to pass and the gates to go up before you proceed.”