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Operation Lifesaver: Make it home safe for the holidays

(Source: Operation Lifesaver press release, December 21, 2013)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- AAA predicts that 94.5 million people will travel during the holiday season, starting today through New Year’s Day. Rail safety education nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) is appealing to drivers and pedestrians to stay alert and stay safe as they go.

The slight uptick in travel comes as winter weather pummels much of the nation, making traffic conditions perilous for many, as most of that travel will happen by automobile.

“Now’s the time when good driving habits are crucial,” said Joyce Rose, OLI president and CEO. “Your family expects you home for the holidays so play it safe out there, especially when you see train tracks.”

OLI offers the following safety tips for motorists, pedestrians and winter sport enthusiasts:

• Always expect a train. Winter weather can reduce visibility so slow down, look both ways — twice — whenever you approach a rail crossing.
• If you’re wearing a helmet; if it’s snowing, windy or raining; or even if traffic’s bad, the sound of a train can be muffled. Listen carefully and stay focused.
• Don’t race a train. There’s never a winner in these situations. Just stop and wait for the train to pass.
• Know the signs. Public rail crossings are marked with different kinds of warnings. Operation Lifesaver offers a quick tutorial on what road signs and traffic devices mean.
• Don’t take the chance of getting stuck on a track if you see traffic is stopped on the other side. Stop at least 15 feet from the track. If you won’t fit, don’t commit.
• Tracks, trains, railroad equipment and the areas immediately surrounding tracks are private property. Cross a train track at a designated crossing. It’s the only safe and legal place to do so. Anything else is trespassing, and proves fatal every single day.

With family around, winter holidays are also a great time to teach young people about the importance of rail safety. OLI offers many free online educational materials for children in K-12, including tips for new drivers, at http://oli.org/education-resources and http://oli.org/video.

“We hope older, more experienced drivers take this time to tell young people to avoid being distracted when they are out and about this holiday season,” said Rose. “When you’re around train tracks listening to loud music, texting, talking on the phone or generally not paying attention, you’re jeopardizing your life. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

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