Officers launch Rail Safety Week

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- Law enforcement from around Macon County Monday announced extra patrols around railroad property as part of Rail Safety Week in Illinois.

In 2017, 25 people died from crashes at railroad crossings in Illinois, and another 20 died after trespassing on tracks, according to a news release from the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.  

“Every train crew … that’s spent any time on the railroad at all has had some kind of close call,” said Tim Crouch, assistant superintendent of dispatch for the Illinois Division Train Dispatching System with Norfolk Southern. “Unfortunately, some of them have even had an incident where they’ve struck somebody or seen it happen. It’s all too common.”

Eric Peden, special agent with Norfolk Southern Railroad Police, said children walking on railroad tracks face particular danger.

“One of the common things you see … the youth are wearing headphones,” Peden said. “They don’t hear the train. People think trains are noisy. On straight rail, a train can come up behind you and you wouldn’t hear it.”

Peden said officers plan to watch for drivers ignoring signals at crossings and for people trespassing on tracks.

Authorities recommend that teachers and families share information on rail safety, which is available here.