This week PPT Photography participated in a railroad crossing blitz here in Charlotte, NC for Operation lifesaver and CSX Railroad. Since this is National Rail Safety week, there were volunteers at a very busy intersection alerting people of the dangers of driving and even walking near a railroad track. Each year more than 450 people are killed and nearly 500 injured as a result of dangerous and illegal activities on or near railroad tracks. Every 3 hours someone is injured or killed in a railroad “collision”. I said collision, and not accident because these occurrences can be avoided and are not accidents.
Operation Lifesaver programs currently exist in 49 states and have contributed significantly to the over 50 percent reduction in crashes and casualties at highway-rail grade crossings since 1972. PPT Photography is only one of a few photographers certified as a volunteer in the Charlotte area.
Railroad tracks are often used as a backdrop for photography – for weddings, prom and senior pictures, for kids who really like trains. Not only is this practice illegal, it’s also very dangerous. Modern trains are faster, longer, and quieter than ever before. In some locations, trains are required NOT to use their horns (No Train Horn zones) and can, literally, sneak up on you.
Here are six “must-know” facts for professional photographers doing a photo shoot near the tracks:
- 1. Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
2. An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you – and its speed.
3. The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
4. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
5. No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.
6. People mimic your behavior when they see your photos on the web and social media.
Many people are unaware that ALL railroad tracks, whether active or “abandoned,” are private property. Being on railroad tracks for any reason is illegal and, in North Carolina, is a Class 3 Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $300! (In other states, the penalties may be higher!)
As of May 2018, nine people have lost their lives trespassing on tracks, and three have been killed in highway-rail incidents. Friends & fellow photographers, don’t add to these numbers by being foolish and thinking your photos are unique or cool by taking pictures on or near railroad tracks.
See Tracks Think Train!