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Rail Safety Week: Be alert at rail crossings

Every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States. Crashes at rail crossings can be more severe than other collisions and are more likely to result in death and injury.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation are promoting Rail Safety Week, September 18-24. The week is dedicated as a reminder to Ohioans to practice safety around all rail crossings. This year’s awareness campaign focuses on the safety of pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists.

“The only thing that belongs on a railroad track is a train,” stated PUCO Chair Jenifer French. “Pedestrians and motorists alike should stay alert around crossings and make safe choices around trains.”

“Rail Safety Week is an important reminder to all about the potential dangers of railroad grade crossings. We are grateful to Governor DeWine for prioritizing rail safety with the recent announcement of the Grade Crossing Elimination Program, which provides us even more resources to address grade crossing safety.  Together with our state partners, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, as well as Operation Lifesaver, we strongly encourage Ohioans to always expect a train when approaching tracks and help us to #STOPTrackTragedies.  Stay alert, stay safe, and stay alive,” said Scott Corbitt, Chair of the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

“With Ohio’s extensive rail network and number of grade crossings, we have the responsibility to work with our transportation partners and communities around the state to promote the importance of rail safety,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks.

The state is encouraging you to follow these steps for safety:

Always expect a train. Trains are quieter and faster than you think, can run on any track, at any time, from either direction and do not run on schedules.

Walking on or beside railroad tracks is illegal. This includes photo shoots!

The only safe place to cross tracks is at designated public crossings with a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. Crossing anywhere else is illegal.

Crossing tracks on a bike, with a stroller, in a wheelchair, or on other narrow wheels requires caution and extra attention. Plan ahead when choosing a route. When possible, walk, don’t ride across the tracks. Cyclists, walk your bike across train tracks at a 90 degree angle. If in a wheelchair, consider getting assistance or taking an alternate route.

Never pass flashing lights or go around lowered gates. Always wait until lights have stopped flashing and gates are completely raised.

Wait to cross until you can see clearly in both directions. Multiple tracks may mean multiple trains.

Stay off railroad bridges and trestles. Stay out of railroad tunnels. There is ONLY ROOM for the train.

Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. Trains, tracks and railroad yards are NOT playgrounds. Never climb on, under or through railroad cars. Never jump on or off a train while it’s moving.

With 36 freight railroads operating approximately 5,300 miles of track and over 5,600 public grade crossings, Ohio is the fifth leading state in terms of goods transported by rail. The PUCO, in conjunction with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, is responsible for ensuring the safety of motorists and pedestrians at highway-rail grade crossings in Ohio. PUCO rail inspectors inspect the warning devices that are essential for everyone’s safety.

In 2022, there were 61 train-vehicle collisions at public railroad crossings in Ohio, including 4 fatalities. More information about rail crossing crashes and safety is available in the PUCO’s 2022 Rail Statistics Report.

The Ohio Rail Hotline, at (866) 814-RAIL (7245), provides Ohioans with a toll-free resource for all railroad crossing questions. For more information on rail crossing safety, visit

ORDC assists Ohio companies, communities and railroads in creating and retaining jobs by preserving rail service to existing shippers and providing rail service to new customers.  In addition, ORDC funds projects to improve railroad-highway grade crossings to increase safety for the traveling public. Rail lines in Ohio are private property. Trespassing is both strictly prohibited and extremely dangerous.  For additional information about ORDC, please visit our website at