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First Published - 06/07/2020 - 2:04PM

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Last Updated - 08/10/2020 - 12:04PM

Metra Announces 14th Annual Safety Contest

(September 23, 2019) - 

Metra today launched its 14th Annual Safety Poster and Essay Contest, asking students to illustrate through posters and essays the importance of safe behaviors near the railroad. This year’s theme: “Obey the Signs” emphasizes the importance of looking for and obeying signs and control devices that are installed along the railroad tracks and at rail crossings.

Since 2006, Metra has been bringing safety lessons into classrooms across northeast Illinois through its Safety Poster and Essay Contest. Over the past decade, more than 36,000 students have had the opportunity to show what they’ve learned about the importance of safe behaviors around trains and railroad tracks. The contest is open to all students in grades K through 12 living or attending school in Metra’s six-county service area: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. The deadline for all entries is Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.

 “Metra has been encouraging students for 14-years to get involved in rail safety awareness by making them authors of the message,” “said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “Safety is our highest priority and with this contest it is our goal is to expose more young people to the lessons of railroad safety, obey the signs, and ultimately prevent unnecessary tragedies on our tracks.”

In 2018 alone, 819 people were injured, and 271 people lost their lives in the U.S. in collisions at railroad crossings, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). In Illinois, 26 people died in 2018 when they were struck by trains while trespassing on railroad property and 17 people died in 2018 when they were struck by trains at a highway-rail crossing. Each one of these incidents was completely preventable. That's why Metra feels it's so important to reach out and educate people, especially our children, about how to be smart and stay safe around the railroad tracks and rail crossings found throughout our region.

We’re emailing schools, libraries and local government centers across the region to help spread the word of safety along the railroad by promoting the contest electronically. Printable versions of the contest poster in English and Spanish are also available through the contest website: One first-, second- and third-place winner will be selected from each grade, K through 12, and awarded the following prizes:
First Place: iPad
Second Place: $250 gift card
Third Place: $100 gift card

The winning designs will be featured in Metra’s safety calendar, website, station displays and on weekend passes.
Metra will also recognize the school that submits the most entries in the 2019-2020 Safety Poster Contest by awarding it a new computer compatible with the school’s current system. Each school’s entries will be totaled after the contest deadline on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.

Students are also encouraged to enter the 2019-2020 Metra Safety Essay Contest. Contest participants are asked to describe in 300 words or less why you should “Obey the Signs” when near railroad tracks, platforms and crossings. Students will compete in three divisions: Elementary, Middle and High School. First-place winners in each division of the essay contest will also receive an iPad.

For more information about the contest rules and guidelines, as well as downloadable entry forms, please visit the contest website at, where you can submit your completed contest entry. Become a fan of the Metra contest Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and send us your Instagram photos. Questions about the contest or materials can be directed to

Metra has a long history of being extremely active in railroad safety education efforts through its participation in Operation Lifesaver, a railroad industry educational program that teaches train safety awareness. Metra has two Operation Lifesaver presenters who provide nearly 1,000 safety blitzes and safety presentations each year that stress the message “Look, Listen and Live” to schools, driver education programs and various community organizations. For more information about Metra’s overall railroad safety outreach and programs, please visit
Printable versions of the contest poster are available in English and Spanish at


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