As we prepare to enter the peak harvest season for many major field crops, it’s a good time to re-emphasize the importance of being safe on the farm, on the road and in the community. Enhancing safety is an FFA standard and essential to fulfilling the organization’s vision of strengthening agriculture and building better communities.
For CSX, safety is also a priority, guiding every aspect of our company’s operations. That’s why we’re proud to participate in the first ever Rail Safety Week (Sept. 24-30), an unprecedented public safety initiative with other freight rail providers, the Federal Railroad Administration, law enforcement agencies and other interested stakeholders.
As the largest freight rail provider in the East – with a network that encompasses nearly two-thirds of our nation’s population and more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 states – CSX works tirelessly to prevent rail-related injuries and accidents, through educational programs and initiatives to help protect employees and the communities where we operate.
As the Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Communications and Field Support for CSX, I live in Cumberland, Md. One of my team’s primary functions is promoting public safety around railroad property and serving as a liaison between the company and the communities in which we operate.
Promoting rail safety is especially important in rural areas, where private railroad crossings are more prevalent. Private railroad crossings allow access across railroad right-of-way to a parcel or portion of privately owned property and often times do not have the active warning devices that many public crossings have. So I spend a lot of time working directly with neighbors, land owners and farmers to help them stay safe around the railroad tracks.
My work is part of a broader initiative at CSX to continually promote the importance of being safe around railroad tracks through several national programs and partnerships throughout the year. For example, CSX’s Play It Safe program is a public outreach initiative in partnership with NASCAR designed to inform people about the importance of staying safe around trains and tracks. While you may have seen our blue and yellow car speeding around the race track this summer, it’s also reaching a key demographic with an important message about safety. Our Play It Safe message reaches many young men ages 18-34, a group that is more likely to take risks around railroad tracks.
CSX also partners with Operation Lifesaver, whose mission is to end rail-related collisions. This partnership has reached 725,000 people with in-person rail safety messages, and countless more through social media campaigns. Operation Lifesaver reports that every three hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train. As staggering as those numbers are, many of these types of incidents are preventable, and that is why we work relentlessly to spread our safety message.
Whether you live in downtown Baltimore, or on a farm in Ohio, our message is the same. Please use caution when approaching a railroad crossing and be sure to obey all the warning signs and signals. Trains can come from any direction, at any time, and they cannot stop quickly. Most importantly, never try to beat a train. Avoiding a few minutes of waiting is not worth risking your life. Be safe this fall, and do what you can to promote safety around railroads.
Jason Bishop of Cumberland, Md., is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Communications and Field Support for CSX. Learn more about CSX’s efforts to promote rail safety.