Utah law enforcement stepping up rail safety precautions

Sep 18, 2023, 7:01 PM | Updated: 10:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Transit Authority is giving a wake-up call regarding safety around railroads, showcasing some terrifying, extremely close calls.

Vern Keeslar, state coordinator with Utah Operation Lifesaver, said multiple organizations will join forces for activities all week long.

“We need to be a bit more dramatic. We need to show the impact that it has. It affects families, communities, schools, entire neighborhoods,” Keeslar said.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 5,000 accidents happen yearly near railroad crossings.

“We have been successful in bringing down rail collisions by 82% in the last 50 years. In the last ten years, we have seen an increase of these incidents occurring,” Keeslar said.

He said each year, there are nearly 600 deaths and 23000 injuries from accidents near railroads.

“We even have more warning devices than ever before, and yet people are either complacent or distracted driving,” Keeslar said.

However, time and time again, law enforcement sees people failing to pay attention to the signs and signals at railroad crossings.

“Pedestrians trespassing on railroad property, disregarding crossing signals or parking too close to railroads, disregard for these violations can have consequences and end in tragedy,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden with Utah Highway Patrol.

Roden said to avoid tragedies, Rail Safety Week encourages people walking, biking, or driving to make safe decisions around tracks and trains.

“We need your help when it comes to rail safety. We can’t do this alone. We can’t enforce our way out of this,” he said.

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Utah law enforcement stepping up rail safety precautions