There are 5,352 miles of railroad in California and 10,285 grade crossings. Last year there were 72 trespasser fatalities and 41 highway-rail crossing fatalities, all of which could have been avoided if trespassers and drivers were obeying the laws. California ranks #1 in the nation in both Trespassing and Grade Crossing Deaths. Last year in California there were a total of 146 highway grade-crossing incidents.
The majority of incidents happen with trains traveling less than 30 miles per hour and most people are not aware it takes the average freight train weighing as much as 6,000 tons, more than a mile to come to a stop.
California Operation Lifesaver (CAOL) is a nonprofit public safety organization committed to reducing the number of tragic incidents at highway-rail grade crossing intersections and trespassing at railroad rights-of-way. CAOL provides free educational presentations to all age groups, including community groups, and various professions (law enforcement, first responders, bus driver, and professional drivers).
The top three Vehicle Code Sections most violated are:
22451(a). Vehicle/Pedestrian failing to stop for railroad crossing signal.
22451(b). Vehicle/Pedestrian walking around lowered railroad crossing arms.
22526(c). Anti-Gridlock, stopping on railroad grade crossing; undercarriage clearance.
For more information or to obtain the Law Enforcement Guide to Railroad Laws, contact your local law enforcement, the California Highway Patrol, or CAOL at (760) 688-0588.
Contained in the guide is a list of 14 vehicle code sections and 41 penal code sections relating to the railways, as well as an investigation checklist and train stopping procedures.
To request a rail safety presentation during rail safety month or to volunteer as an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer, visit www.caol.us or call (760) 688-0588.
Rail safety month events will be occurring throughout the state, including events where Operation Lifesaver, Inc. will promote a new national “See Track? Think Train!” campaign. Refer to www.seetracksthinktrain.org for more information.