As warmer weather arrives, Union Pacific Railroad and Operation Lifesaver (www.oli.org), the rail safety education nonprofit organization, are urging professional photographers to refrain from taking photos of high school seniors, wedding parties, and other subjects on train tracks or trestles.
Last year, more than 800 people were injured or killed while trespassing on railroad property in the U.S., according to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration statistics.
"As part of our UP CARES initiative, we want to remind photographers that walking on or near railroad tracks is extremely dangerous because you never know when a train will come along," said Dale Bray, Union Pacific director – public safety. "We urge professional and amateur photographers alike to set the right example for others by adhering to the safety guidelines."
A teacher that taught art, along with photography, was struck and killed by a train while taking photos on the tracks late in 2012.
In response to tragic and preventable incidents like this, Operation Lifesaver has worked with Professional Photographers of America on rail safety education outreach to the professional photographer community.
"Trackside settings have become popular for senior, wedding, and family portraits. But photographers need to know the laws and the safety ramifications of staging a photo shoot near train tracks," said David Trust, chief executive officer of Professional Photographers of America. "PPA applauds Operation Lifesaver programs that educate photographers about the danger to themselves and their clients of working near tracks."
Union Pacific is committed to public safety through various outreach channels such as community events, media outreach, law enforcement partnerships, employee resource groups and Operation Lifesaver. The UP CARES (Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety) public safety initiative brings together communities in a collaborative and caring effort to promote railroad grade crossing and pedestrian safety.
UP CARES activities include:
• Grade crossing enforcement with local, county and state law enforcement agencies;
• Safety trains that provide local officials a firsthand look at what locomotive engineers see daily while they operate trains through a community and
• Communication blitzes that educate the community at events or media outreach.
Operation Lifesaver has six “must-know" tips for professional photographers considering 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 in your community mimic your behavior.
Operation Lifesaver's mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. A national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety. For more information or to request a free safety presentation, visit www.oli.org; follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Union Pacific Railroad links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country by rail, providing a critical link in the global supply chain.