Rail safety a good message

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

Earlier this week, Operation

Lifesaver — a non-profit, international organization, joined Norfolk Southern, the Ironton Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol to educate the public about railway safety in Ironton.

The group passed out pamphlets to drivers and pedestrians at the Center Street railroad crossing on Tuesday.

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Considering the high number of fatalities in Ironton in recent years and the general dangers associated with railways, the effort here is a worthwhile one.

The Federal Railroad Administration reported 4,972 deaths resulted from pedestrians being struck by trains over the past 10 years. The FRA also claims a pedestrian or driver is struck by a train in the United States every two hours.

Ironton has had five railway fatalities in the past six years.

Tom Davis, a Norfolk Southern engineer and a volunteer for Operation Lifesaver, said walking on railroad tracks is illegal and potentially fatal. He said that’s why informing the public of the dangers is an important task.

“Education is coming out and talking to people. Engineering is the crossing lights and things like that,” Davis said. “The enforcement of it is the law enforcement.”

Making the public aware of the dangers of railways is clearly important, but it is particularly important in areas like ours where rail is so prevalent.

City and county governments should also be aware of dangerous areas and make sure they are marked properly. Many entities bear some responsibility in the prevention of rail accidents.

Citizens also bear responsibility and need to be cautious near railroad tracks and crossings.

But Operation Lifesaver is a noble effort that gives us a reminder that these staples of our landscape are not to be underestimated.