Did you know that railroad tracks and the area around them are private property? Trespassing along them puts you at risk of more than just getting a ticket. It could cost you your life.
Officers from the Dalton Police Department worked on Wednesday alongside officers from the Norfolk Southern Police Department to raise awareness of safety around rail lines through town. It's part of the NSPD's year long Trespass Abatement Program, aimed at reducing trespassing along tracks, rights of way, and equipment to reduce the number of deaths and injuries. Last year, two people were killed while trespassing on tracks near Dalton.
According to a press release from Norfolk Southern, Whitfield County ranks in the top 20 counties in Georgia for highway/railroad crossing incidents and trespassing casualties. Since 2005, there have been nine trespasser casualties in Whitfield County including seven fatalities. It's a big problem nationwide. Last year, more than 500 people were killed while trespassing on railroad property.
Wednesday's Trespass Abatement Program (TAP) operation called for Norfolk Southern police to walk the tracks alongside officers from the DPD's Traffic Unit and distributing pamphlets and warnings to people along railroad property. There are several homeless camps near the rail lines, and officers spoke to people there about making sure to avoid the tracks and rights of way.
Norfolk Southern offers these five safety tips for pedestrians:
- Trespassing on railroad tracks is dangerous and illegal. The tracks, rail yards and equipment are private property. Walking, hunting, fishing, etc. on railroad tracks is considered trespassing. You could be hurt or killed.
- The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at designated public crossings where there are warning signals. If you cross anywhere else, you can be ticketed and fined.
- Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet on either side. If you are in the right of way near a track, you can be hit.
- Do not hunt, fish, or bungee jump from railroad trestles. Trestles only have room for a train. They are not designed to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges. Never walk, run, cycle, or drive ATVs on tracks, rights of way, or through rail tunnels.
- Never attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment. A slip of the foot could cost you your life.
The TAP operation will continue tomorrow in Dalton with officers issuing citations instead of warnings to trespassers.
Below: DPD officers work with Norfolk Southern Police to survey tracks in Dalton looking for trespassers