Operation Clear Track: A rail safety initiative

Montgomery County

FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — We’re in the midst of operation clear track week, a rail safety initiative unlike any other. It’s a collaboration coordinated by Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver, along with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, which has been a partner for a long time.

It’s about raising awareness and educating the public on how dangerous railroad crossings can be. Railroad crossing incidents are the cause of serious injuries and fatalities to over 2,100 people every year.

For a place like Montgomery County, with a long stretch of tracks that run throughout the whole county, education is vital. Sheriff Jeffrey Smith says they encourage only vehicles to cross in approved public label crossings. He adds that they are not made for individuals to be walking around or playing near at all, not even for 4-wheelers or people looking to take a shortcut.

Many rail-tracks are privately owned, so you’re not allowed to be on them without express permission from the owner. When it comes to staying educated and preventing injuries, they like to be proactive rather than reactive.

“Even in an approved public crossing, sometimes you’ll see people go around the gates that or down or try to sneak over them and under them as they’re coming down,” Sheriff Smith said. “Things like that are very dangerous because you never know where the train is on those tracks or how close you are to having an incident.”

It’s a reminder that rail-cars and trains aren’t like the vehicles we drive every day. They can take up to a mile to slow down and come to a complete stop.

Sheriff Smith says while you can hear them, you might not always be able to see them, stressing the importance to abide by the rules.

NEWS10’s Ben Ryan interviewed Sheriff Smith, the full details are in the video above.

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