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Riders and hikers encouraged to "Use Trails, Not Rails"

Railroad tracks may be a popular means of accessing hunting and off-road spots, but far too many people overlook the dangers.

From Operation Lifesaver

Last year nearly 4,000 people were injured or killed while trespassing on railroad tracks. New safety campaign is launched in attempt to cut down on these surprising numbers.

Hunters and hikers are also targeted.To promote public safety along the thousands of miles of railroads nationwide, CSX Transportation is urging sportsmen and off-road enthusiasts to "Use Trails, Not Rails."

Railroad tracks may be a popular means of accessing hunting and off-road spots, but far too many people overlook the dangers, according to Kathleen Burns, assistant vice president-safety for CSXT.

"Hunters, ATV riders, snowmobilers and everyone else who enjoys the outdoors need to understand that rails and recreation do not mix," Burns said. "A freight train traveling at even moderate speeds requires almost a mile to come to a stop. And, it's important to point out that railroads are private property. We can prevent a lot of needless tragedies if outdoors enthusiasts would remember to 'Use Trails, Not Rails' and stay off the railroad tracks."

Last year along all U.S. railroads, nearly 4,000 people were killed or injured while on railroad property without permission, according to statistics from the Federal Rail Administration.

Rail safety facts to keep in mind include:

You should always expect a train, as they can appear at any time. Freight trains, especially, do not always follow set schedules.

Trains cannot swerve. Forcing a train to make an emergency stop could cause it to derail, possibly causing injuries to others as well as yourself.

Trains cannot stop quickly. A 150-car freight train going only 30 miles per hour needs two-thirds of a mile to come to a complete stop. At 50 miles per hour, it can take more than a mile to stop.

Railroad trestles and tunnels are not designed to be sidewalks or pedestrian walkways. Bridges and tunnels ONLY have room for trains.

If you have to cross tracks, make sure you can cross completely, safely. Where there are multiple tracks, watch for a second train coming from the opposite direction.

A train is always closer and moving faster than you think.

Railroad property is a place of business where trains and other equipment can move at any time. Walking or riding on any railroad right of way or other railroad property without the permission of the railroad is unsafe, trespassing and illegal. Violators will be prosecuted.

"Sportsmen and off-road enthusiasts must recognize that trains cannot take the simple evasive actions that most other vehicles can," Burns says. "There are more than 200,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States, but not one inch of them should be confused as an ATV or game trail."

When you're enjoying the great outdoors, remember to use trails, not rails. For more information go to www.OperationLifesaver.org

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