Sheriff Jay Koon

It’s often overlooked, but you’d be surprised by the amount of calls we get for safety issues regarding people on railroad tracks. It’s illegal and it’s dangerous.

This week marks the third annual Rail Safety Week; raising awareness and enforcing state railroad grade crossing and trespassing laws.

On Tuesday of this week, we, in tandem with the Amtrak Police Department and Operation Lifesaver, the nonprofit rail safety education organization, participated in “Operation Clear Track,” along with more than 600 law enforcement agencies nationwide. Deputies from our traffic division patrolled various railroad crossing locations in Lexington County to enforce violators and educate citizens on proper crossing procedures. We also passed out railroad safety cards to motorists and pedestrians.

The goal of Rail Safety Week is to reduce pedestrian and driver injuries and deaths near railroad tracks through increased public awareness and enforcement. This detail, carried out in 48 states, is the single largest rail safety law enforcement initiative in the U.S. and we are proud to participate.

Federal statistics show that about every three hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train. “Operation Clear Track” is an effort by law enforcement, Operation Lifesaver, Amtrak and rail safety partner organizations to raise awareness of the dangers around railroad tracks during Rail Safety Week. In our county alone, since the beginning of 2018, we’ve responded to calls regarding children on the tracks, cars stuck on tracks, trespassers hit by trains, ATVs riding on the tracks and more—nearly two dozen of them.

Please don’t put yourself in danger; railroad tracks are not a playground. Stay clear and stay safe.

Visit Operation Lifesaver’s national website for safety tips and statistics, oli.org, or contact stayoffthetracks.org for more information on “Operation Clear Track.”