Rail Safety Week, a project from Operation Lifesaver, kicked off on Monday with posters, videos, PSAs, email blasts -- an entire public relations blitz to #STOPTrackTragedies, as the campaign says.
After all, every three hours a person or vehicle gets hit by a train in the U.S., according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Almost all, about 95%, of train crashes result from crossing collisions or pedestrian trespassing incidents.
Operation Lifesaver's website offers plenty of information on how to avoid these tragedies, even videos and posters tailored to large trucks, info about how much space to give rail crossings, what the signs and lights mean, and what gear to cross in could legitimately save lives and avert environmental disasters.
But, Rail Safety Week this year falls against the backdrop of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's efforts to mandate side-underride guards on trailers. Overdrive has previously reported truck operators' suggestion such a mandate would be a rail disaster waiting to happen.
Although Operation Lifesaver and Rail Safety Week do mention low clearance signs at rail junctions, there's currently no publicly available information on the dimensions of the thousands of these crossings across the country.
It's important to note that the side underride mandate could be one of the costliest of all time, at $3,740 or more per trailer in equipment and install alone.
There's just no good way for a driver to know if their trailer will get stuck on the rails. Even the PSA videos stop short of explaining that process, instead simply saying that if a driver does get stuck on the rails, they should exit the vehicle, call the posted emergency number, and run at a 45-degree angle away from the crash.
Professional drivers bear loads of responsibility for road safety. so this year for Rail Safety Week, go above and beyond to make sure you can clear the rails, and when government tries to mandate technology that could exacerbate the problem, keep providing your expertise at every opportunity.