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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Railroad Safety Initiative Founded by Florida Marlins and Operation Lifesaver
Approximately 95 percent of rail-related deaths in the U.S. are the result of train-vehicle collisions and illegal trespassing. Recently, Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins and Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a national, non-profit rail safety program, inaugurated a pioneering partnership to promote safe behavior near railroad tracks and trains. Public service messages from Operation Lifesaver will appear as "rolling billboards" on freight train rail cars that ride along Florida's East Coast.
"This new mobile outdoor medium will help us educate the public about the dangers of trespassing on railroad tracks and the need to obey the laws at railroad grade crossings," Operation Lifesaver president Helen Sramek said. "What better place to alert the public than at the place where an incident could occur?"
Marlins players Hanley Ramirez and Dontrelle Willis were on hand to unveil the Operation Lifesaver message, which features the Marlins image on rail cars in English and Spanish. "This is a terrific outreach to our fans and other members of the South Florida community—everyone needs to know about driving safely across rail tracks and not playing or walking near them," Willis commented. This season, the Florida Marlins will host an Operation Lifesaver Day and run safety messages on the scoreboard toward the end of home games.
"I am thrilled to see that together, the Florida Marlins and Operation Lifesaver are working to alert Floridians to drive safely at rail crossings and keep off the tracks," Congresswoman Corrine Brown. who represents Florida's Third Congressional District, said. Brown is also chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. "The use of bilingual messaging will help raise awareness among Hispanic families in our state, particularly in the Miami area," she added. "I praise the Marlins and Operation Lifesaver for their dedication to this project."
Wade Hall, co-presenter for Operation Lifesaver, said there are three simple things when it comes to trains: look, listen and live.
Started in 1975 in Idaho, Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending collisions and deaths at railroad crossings. It has since become a national organization, with representatives throughout the 50 states.
"It's such a great program," said Wade Hall, co-presenter for Operation Lifesaver. "We really travel all over the place promoting rail safety."
Preliminary statistics from 2006 show that at least 365 people were killed and 1,005 were seriously injured in 2,903 highway rail crossing collisions in the United States.
It is impossible for trains to stop quickly. Almost half of all highway rail accidents happen when a train is moving no faster than 30 mph.
Hall said the best ways to avoid a collision with a train is to always expect a train, never drive under lowered gates, never try to race a train to the crossing and always keep a safe distance from railroad tracks.
For more information about driver safety, The National Safety Commission and Lowest Price Traffic School offer safe teen driving resources for first time drivers and their parents.