Walkers and drivers in Sultan will get rail safety reminders

Awareness campaign aims to reduce deaths and injuries on tracks.

SULTAN — The railroad tracks are not an appropriate route for getting to the river, and cars should wait a safe distance from a rail crossing if there’s no room on the other side.

Those are a couple of common errors that law enforcement personnel see in Sultan, said Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Martin, who also is acting Sultan police chief. “People tend to forget some of the basics of railroad safety.”

Officers will be at a couple of the city’s railroad crossings Tuesday to remind pedestrians and drivers about the basics as part of U.S. Rail Safety Week.

The focus of the effort is on education. Officers will have pamphlets to hand out. But there could be enforcement, too.

Walking on railroad tracks is trespassing, as well as an unsafe practice. Stopping your vehicle on the tracks — or driving around crossing gates in an attempt to beat a train — are illegal and unwise.

The statewide “Operation Clear Track” awareness effort with Amtrak involves similar enforcement campaigns in King and Thurston counties. BNSF Railway police also plan to take part.

In 2017, incidents at rail crossings and along rail tracks resulted in 23 deaths and eight injuries in Washington, according to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which regulates railroad crossings and sponsors the Washington Operation Lifesaver safety education program.

On Sept. 14, a Monroe High School teen was struck and killed by a freight train at North Kelsey Street and U.S. 2.

The goal of the campaign is to reduce crossing collisions and pedestrian-trespass incidents by raising awareness of railroad safety.

Rail safety tips

– Any time is “train time” — always expect a train.

– The average freight train takes more than a mile to stop when emergency braking.

– A train outweighs a car by about 4,000-to-1, the same ratio of a car to a can of pop.

– A locomotive’s size, combined with a person’s angle of view and the parallel line of the tracks, can make a train appear to be traveling much slower than it really is.

– Before crossing tracks, make sure there’s room to get completely across.

– Trains hide other trains — watch for a second train.

– Railroad tracks are not public property.

Source: Washington Operation Lifesaver

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