United Group Insurance

Raising awareness about railroad risks for motorists and pedestrians


September 25th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowans are being reminded about the dangers of railroads and railroad crossings. Jeffery White, a spokesman for the Canadian National Railway, says the weather will be turning colder soon and that brings an increased risk for motorists. “For example, when the first snowfall hits, we get the first type of icy condition on the roads, we see drivers that just are driving too fast,” White says. “They may approach a railroad crossing, the road surface may be slick when they approach and next thing you know, they’re sliding into a train, which is actually something that does happen a lot.”

White says pedestrians can put themselves in grave danger whenever they trespass on railroad tracks. “A trespassing incident is where a person is walking down a set of tracks in a spot that they’re not supposed to be at,” White says. “Walking down the tracks is never safe. It’s not only not safe, but it’s dangerous and illegal, and depending where you’re at, it’s either a ticketable fine or you can actually go to jail.”

While railroad tracks might provide a tempting setting for senior photos or a family portrait, White says that’s another very risky move.  “A person will be out there taking photos or a selfie on the track and what they’re doing, they’re not paying attention to their surroundings, and they’re not paying attention, nor are they seeing or hearing the train that’s approaching,” White says. “That can create a catastrophic situation for that person on the track. You can never take a photo on the tracks. If you’re caught, it could be a pretty hefty fine.”

White says the number of train/motor vehicle collisions peaked in 1972 at around 12-thousand incidents a year across the U-S. It’s down now to about 22-hundred incidents a year, though they’d like to see the number reach zero. Learn more from Operation Lifesaver at https://oli.org/