Online Staff Report
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) issued a proclamation Thursday, declaring Sept. 14-20, as the first “Illinois Rail Safety Week” in an effort to promote vehicle and pedestrian safety around railroad tracks and trains.
In 2013, there were 126 crossing collisions involving motor vehicles in the state, which resulted in 40 injuries and 21 fatalities. There were also 52 incidents that resulted in 27 injuries and 25 fatalities after victims trespassed onto railroad property. Illinois ranked third last year in the nation in both vehicle collision fatalities and trespasser fatalities.
An array of agencies have joined the case, such as the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Chicago Police Department and local and railroad law enforcement, first responders and area railroad companies. Each will work together in an effort to educate Illinois residents on all aspects of railroad safety, to enforce applicable state laws and to support Illinois Rail Safety Week.
Educational, as well as, enforcement details are planned during the week at various railroad grade crossings and commuter stations throughout the state. If appropriate, officers will cite drivers and pedestrians who disobey laws associated with railroad grade crossings and railroad property. In addition, police officers will be conducting educational campaigns by distributing literature to the public which contains information on how to be safe around trains and train tracks.
To date, 246 agencies have committed to participating in this, the inaugural, statewide rail safety week. These agencies also include the Federal Railroad Administration, all 21 Illinois State Police districts, 26 counties, 13 railroads/rail police agencies, 182 municipal police agencies, two fire departments and five private associations.
These participants are working together to improve rail safety and to eliminate preventable injuries and deaths. Voluntary compliance is the goal. Education and enforcement are the tools to help accomplish that goal. These participants are helping to keep Illinois safely moving on our railways.
For more information about Illinois Rail Safety Week, or to see the names of participating agencies, please visit illinoisrailsafetyweek.org.