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For Immediate Release
Contact:  Matt Schilling
614 | 466 7750

PUCO partners with OLI and AAR to promote “See Track Think Train”

COLUMBUS, OHIO (April 10, 2014) – Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States. In 2013, Ohio had 63 crashes at railroad crossings with many of these crashes occurring because motorists failed to stop at crossing, drove around the gates or stopped/stalled on the tracks.

Partnering with Operation Lifesaver (OLI) and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) this week is encouraging Ohioans to remember the simple phrase, “See Tracks Think Train.”

“Despite significant gains in crossing safety in recent decades, more than half of the train-vehicle crashes in Ohio still occur at grade crossings that have active warning devices,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. “To improve public awareness of this issue, the PUCO is proud to work in conjunction with OLI and AAR to highlight the importance of railway safety.”

OLI and AAR launched the website www.SeeTracksThinkTrain.org this week featuring public service announcements, posters and other downloadable media reminding motorists and pedestrians of the dangers associated with carelessness and/or trespassing on or near rail tracks and crossings. Among the reminders emphasized by the “See Track Think Train” campaign:

  • Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains change.
  • A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three foot mark.
  • All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; it’s illegal to trespass and highly dangerous.
  • Today’s trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Any approaching train is always closer and moving faster than you think.

With 36 freight railroads operating approximately 5,300 miles of track and 5,800 public grade crossings, Ohio is the fifth leading state in terms of goods transported by rail. The PUCO, in conjunction with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, is responsible for ensuring the safety of motorists at highway-rail grade crossings in Ohio. PUCO rail inspectors inspect the warning devices that are essential for motorist safety. Additionally, the PUCO prepares the Ohio Grade Crossing Statistics report each year to help legislators, safety advocates and members of the public understand rail-highway grade crossing safety trends.  Along with “See Tracks, Think Train” motorists in Ohio should always remember the following when approaching a rail crossing:

  • Prepare to stop. Turn off fans and radio and roll down windows. Locate your cell phone for use in an emergency. Stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from nearest rail.
  • Look and listen both ways, carefully. Bend forward to see around mirrors and A-pillars.
  • Look again. Before you move, look again in both directions.
  • Cross tracks with care. Signal, watch for a safe gap, pull back onto the road if you used a pull-out lane. Use highest gear that will let you cross without shifting.
  • Keep going once you start, even if lights start to flash or gates come down.

To learn more, visit the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov or call the Ohio Rail Hotline, maintained jointly by the PUCO, the Ohio Rail Development Commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation, at (866) 814-RAIL (7245).

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business, and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.

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