HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) joins with railroad safety agencies across the country in warning Pennsylvania residents – especially younger social media fans – about the dangers of taking “selfies” while on train track, or engaging in other dangerous behavior around railroads.
“Snapping photos of yourself and your friends in potentially hazardous locations is a growing national trend, especially for young adults, but it can have tragic consequences,” said PUC chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We join with our colleagues across the country in urging everyone to treat rail safety seriously.”
Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a national nonprofit rail safety education group, along with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), recently launched a new national safety awareness message – as part of their “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign – to discourage people from taking photos on train tracks.
The release of this new safety message closely follows a January 2016 study by Priceonomics which noted that railroad tracks rank as the world’s third most deadly place to take a selfie. Since 2011, a total of 13 deaths and four injuries have resulted from people photographing on train tracks.
According to preliminary statistics from the FRA, last year saw an increase of 2 percent in overall trespass casualties across the country and 7.6 percent in trespass deaths. In Pennsylvania, there were 31 fatalities and 13 injuries involving people struck on railroad tracks during 2015. So far this year at least 8 people have been struck and killed on railroad tracks across the state and 6 people have been injured.
The safety education campaign includes a new animated video public service announcement aimed at young audiences, who are at the highest risk, along with Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to bring the message to smart phone users on the social media outlets they visit on every day.