Metra announced today that it will conduct Operation Lifesaver Safety Blitzes at 51 train stations across the six-county region in 2017 as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of safe behavior around its trains and tracks.
During a safety blitz, Metra safety employees will be at one of the commuter railroad’s 241 stations during the morning commute, distributing educational materials about train and grade crossing safety, answering questions and listening to commuters’ safety concerns. A short video about grade crossing safety is also available for customers to view while they wait for their train. Local police and fire officials are also invited to participate.
“Safety is always Metra’s highest priority,” said Don Orseno, Metra’s Executive Director/CEO. “These safety blitzes allow us to reach our customers directly to ensure that we all stay vigilant about safety around the railroad.”
Illinois has the second-largest rail system in the nation with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings. In 2015, Illinois ranked second in the nation in rail fatalities at highway rail crossings and ranked third in the nation in collisions at rail crossings. Last year, 44 people were killed and 60 more were injured in railroad incidents in Illinois. Twenty-two of these reported fatalities occurred at rail crossings.
To help promote rail safety awareness and eliminate preventable injuries and deaths, Metra develops an annual schedule of safety blitzes throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. The complete 2017 safety blitz schedule can be found here.
The intent of the safety blitz program is primarily educational. However, Metra, through its Police Department, will also conduct additional enforcement blitzes at locations throughout the region where citations and warnings are issued to pedestrians and drivers who ignore gates and warning devices.
Metra also promotes safety through its annual Safety Poster and Essay Contest for the region’s schoolchildren. It also conducts nearly 1,000 free Operation Lifesaver presentations annually to schools, community groups, school bus drivers, professional truck drivers, emergency responders and other organizations throughout the region.
Operation Lifesaver is a national organization that works to educate and promote safe behavior near the tracks by offering free rail safety education programs. The organization’s work is cosponsored by local, state and federal government agencies, highway safety organizations and America's railroads.