Are you a photographer? Or have you just scheduled your family for a photo shoot?
This valuable information may save your life or the life of someone you love.
Many of you know that I am a survivor of a van/train collision and an advocate of railroad-crossing safety. For over nine years, I instructed children, teen drivers and adults in railroad-crossing safety and trespassing dangers.
There are over 451 deaths nationwide each year from people playing on train tracks. “About every three hours a person, or vehicle is hit by a train” (OLI, 2012). Lost lives are too high of a price to pay for creative photography.
If you haven’t seen any of these photographs, do a search on Google. First click “Images,” and then insert the key words “railroad tracks kids photography.” Keep scrolling down the pages and you’ll see what I mean. There you’ll find married couples, families, toddlers and babies posing on the tracks. My heart literally aches to see these images.
Michigan and Rhode Island impose up to $1000 fines and imprisonment for pedestrians who trespass on railroad tracks. Several other states including Kentucky, Maine and New Jersey, also have trespassing laws (FRA, 2012). I recently sent a letter to my state senator and asked him to write a bill that prohibits pedestrians from trespassing on tracks. I ask that you do the same in your state.
Trains are silent. They don’t make loud noises and rattle the tracks anymore like they did in old TV westerns. They also take over a mile to stop. When people are playing on the tracks, inevitably they will get hit.
In addition, children whose parents allow them to be photographed on the tracks are sending a dangerous message. Since mommy and daddy posed with the kids on the tracks in a photograph that is proudly displayed on the family room wall, this constant reminder may be misconstrued as permission to play on the tracks anytime. Even if photographers use tracks that are abandoned or no longer in use, children cannot discern the difference. Children should be taught to stay away from the tracks at all times and to never sit, stand or pose on them.
Photographers, I implore you, please keep your clients off the tracks.
Clients if you are asked to pose on the tracks by yourself, as a couple, or with your children, please adamantly refuse; and then, educate your photographer on the dangers of these insidious acts.
A motto I shared, as I instructed children, teens, and adults, in my railroad-crossing safety classes was this: “Stay Off, Stay Away, Stay Alive” (OLI, 2012).
Blog first posted April 2012
(OLI, 2012) Operation Lifesaver, Inc – www.oli.org. Please visit OLIs website for more information on how to stay safe on the tracks.
(FRA, 2012) Railroad crossing trespassing laws from the U.S. Department of Transportation—Federal Railroad Administration. Compilation of State Laws and Regulations Affecting Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. 5th Edition. Retrieved from: http://www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/compilation2009/compilationofstatelaws2009.pdf