Union Pacific Reminds Holiday Drivers to Stay Clear of Trains

Spring, Texas, December 10, 2008 – Santa's helpers from Union Pacific surprised safe drivers with early holiday gifts and reminded them to watch for trains during this year's holiday hustle and bustle.

Union Pacific volunteers stood by the grade crossing intersection at Copia and Saragoza Street to observe motorist behavior as the company's bright yellow locomotive chugged through the railroad crossings. They were looking for drivers who stopped after red railroad signals flashed and crossing gates came down. Dressed in Santa hats and red Union Pacific shirts, volunteers thanked the drivers for heeding railroad warnings and shared information to help keep them safe this holiday season. Surprised drivers smiled after volunteers kicked off the season of giving by presenting them with movie tickets.

"During the holidays, we frequently see an increase in crossing accidents as motorists rush to do their shopping or hurry to parties," said Sam Stephenson, manager of public safety. "We want to help keep people safe, so we ask everyone to please obey the railroad crossing signals."

Union Pacific volunteers included locomotive conductors and engineers who asked drivers to be patient while allowing trains to go by because trains are often closer than they appear. Freight trains traveling 55 miles per hour take a mile or more to stop, explaining why locomotive engineers cannot stop trains quickly for individuals or vehicles on the railroad tracks.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 94 percent of all crossing accidents are caused by risky driver behavior. Drivers often put themselves and their passengers in harm's way by unsafely ignoring railroad warnings such as bells, gates and lights.  Motor vehicle laws require drivers to stop at least 15 feet from the nearest rail at crossings when warning signals indicate a train is approaching. Drivers must treat crossbucks as yield signs and stop whenever flashing red lights and gates are activated. Union Pacific offers the following safety tips to help drivers as they approach railroad tracks and trains:

  • Always expect a train and look both ways before crossing railroad tracks.
  • Wait for trains and do not attempt to beat approaching trains.
  • Avoid getting trapped on the railroad tracks by ensuring there is enough room on the other side for your vehicle to completely clear the tracks.
  • Watch for vehicles that must stop at railroad crossings such as school buses and commercial trucks.
  • If your vehicle stalls at a crossing, get passengers out and escort them far from the area, even if trains are not coming through. Call the emergency notification number posted on or near the crossing or notify local law enforcement.

Practicing railroad safety can help keep communities safe during the holidays. Safety is not seasonal and drivers should make year-round efforts to practice the railroad safety tips, which make great New Year's resolutions. Additional information about railroad safety is available through Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit public education program established to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings. Visit their website at www.oli.org.

Editor's Note: Union Pacific also conducted positive enforcement operations during the 2008 holiday season in San Antonio on Nov. 20 and in Houston on Nov. 25.
About Union Pacific

Union Pacific Corporation owns one of America's leading transportation companies. Its principal operating company, Union Pacific Railroad, links 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country and serves the fastest-growing U.S. population centers. Union Pacific's diversified business mix includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Energy, Industrial Products and Intermodal. The railroad offers competitive long-haul routes from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways. Union Pacific connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico, making it North America's premier rail franchise.

For further information, contact Raquel Espinoza, (281) 350.7771.

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