Gov. JB Pritzker has proclaimed Sept. 19 through Sept. 25, 2022, as Rail Safety Week in Illinois. In recognition, the Illinois Commerce Commission in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver will be sharing rail safety facts, tips and resources to raise awareness about motorists and pedestrian safety around railroad tracks and trains. Operation Lifesaver is a national non-profit rail safety organization.
During 2021, 101 vehicle crashes were reported at public highway-rail grade crossings, resulting in 24 fatalities and 25 personal injuries in Illinois. In addition, 38 pedestrians trespassing on railroad property rights-of-way were struck by passing trains, resulting in 20 fatalities and 18 personal injuries. Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in trespass and grade crossing fatalities in 2021. More than 81 percent of crashes at public grade crossings in Illinois occur where active warning devices, such as flashing lights, ringing bells and/or gates exist.
“Each year lives are lost to crashes involving trains,” said ICC Commissioner Michael T. Carrigan. “This rail safety week the ICC and Operation Lifesaver will be sharing rail safety tips across our social media platforms. We encourage all motorists and pedestrians to follow these tips to stay safe around trains and railroad crossings. Being informed saves lives.”
“Most accidents involving trains were preventable. The ICC’s Crossing Safety Improvement, Inspection, and Education & Outreach programs aim to bring down the number of accidents. Educating the public, commercial drivers, students and others about the dangers associated with highway-rail grade crossings and how to stay safe remains a top priority for our agency,” said ICC Brian Vercruysse, Rail Safety Program Administrator.
Illinois’ efforts are supported by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP) partnered with CN Railway, Metra Railroad and supported by the American Automobile Association, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Operation Lifesaver, Illinois State Police, Illinois Tollway Authority, Illinois Sheriff’s Association, Illinois Secretary of State, Illinois Truck Enforcement Association, Illinois High School and College Driver’s Education Association, Illinois Pupil Transportation Advisory Committee, DuPage Rail Safety Council, local and railroad law enforcement, first responders and area railroad companies. All are committed to partnering together to educate residents on all aspects of railroad safety and to enforce applicable state laws.
For more rail safety statistics, tips and educational materials visit the ICC website www.icc.illinois.gov or the Operation Lifesaver website www.oli.org.