One of the biggest safety challenges that NCDOT and the railroads encounter are people on the tracks. Railroads are private property, meaning not only can you be arrested or fined for trespassing on the tracks, but you are also putting your life at risk.
Many people don’t know that it takes a train traveling 55 miles per hour more than one mile to stop – that’s over 18 football fields.
“People are walking on the tracks, they have earbuds in, they are looking at their phones. Everybody thinks they’ll hear a train when it’s coming or feel it, but that’s not always the case,” explained Chris Vaughan, Research Associate at the Institute for Transportation Research and Education.
This year alone, there have been 28 trespassing incidents on state railroads, 14 of which were fatal.
With support from the department’s Research and Development unit, the Rail division is utilizing new technology and research methods to help keep people off railroad tracks. NCDOT has installed infrared cameras along the rail line between Charlotte and Raleigh, and on Piedmont trains, to determine the extent and primary locations of railroad trespassing.
This information will help the department tailor safety efforts, or make safety improvement recommendations, in locations where trespassing is a significant hazard.
To learn more about railroad safety, visit BeRailSafe.org.