INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)- 34 people died last year in Indiana after getting hit by a train.
That included people either walking along or across the tracks, or while crossing them in a car.
That’s more than double the amount of deaths in 2010 when 16 people died. That data was collected by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Operation Lifesaver is trying to stop that deadly trend. It launched a new campaign called “See Tracks, Think Train.” The idea is to cut down on the amount of people getting hurt or killed along the tracks.
As long as the arms aren’t down and the lights not flashing, many might assume there’s nothing to worry about. But experts warn people should think the opposite.
“Whenever you are in proximity to a set of railroad tracks, there are inherently risks associated with that,” said Chris Rund, Board of Directors President for Indiana Operation Lifesaver.
Especially in Indiana, a state with more than 5000 railroad crossings. “We’re known as the ‘Crossroads of America’,” he said.
And not everyone riding the rails is doing it the safe way.
According to the FRA, last year 19 people died while trespassing along tracks compared to only six deaths in 2010.
Experts say new distractions are to blame.
“MP3 players, music players with ear buds, those will mask the noise of an approaching train,” he said.
Which is the point Operation Lifesaver hopes to hit home in a new PSA
It features a man listening to music while walking along tracks, unaware a train is headed straight for him.
“It’s really critical for people to understand that they need to stay off the railroad right of way,” said Rund, not only because it’s dangerous but because it’s against the law.
If a driver is pulling up to a crossing in a vehicle, officials say he or she should open his or her ears by turning down the stereo, AC or heater, anything that might drown out the sound of a train. Also, roll down the vehicle windows and peek in both directions.
“The easiest and most significant thing that people can do is simply stay off the tracks,” said Rund.
The PSA will start airing in Indiana this summer. Billboard and advertisements saying “See Tracks, Think Train” will be put up as well.
To learn more about the safety campaign, click here!
To see data that compares Indiana to other states, click here!