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Sound Transit kicks off Rail Safety Week

National effort reminds public to make safe choices around trains and tracks

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In conjunction with national Rail Safety Week, Sound Transit is kicking off a campaign this week to educate and empower the public about the importance of making safe choices around trains and tracks. This annual weeklong event, which first began in 2017, is a collaborative effort among Operation Lifesaver, Inc., state Operation Lifesaver programs and rail safety partners across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. 

“Safety is our number one priority at Sound Transit. That’s why Rail Safety Week is so important for us,” said David Wright, Sound Transit’s Chief Safety Officer. “It’s about saving lives through education and empowering everyone to make safe decisions around trains and tracks. We continue to do our part by continuously taking steps to enhance safety for the public, our riders and staff throughout our entire system.”

During Operation Lifesaver's 2023 Rail Safety Week, Sound Transit will highlight and promote the agency's five core safety messages and align these messages with the overall theme of #STOPTrackTragedies. These five core messages are:

  • Look both ways.
  • Headphones off, screens down.
  • Take crosswalks, not shortcuts.
  • Stay behind the yellow line.
  • Bike smart, ride safe. Cross tracks at 90 degrees.

Throughout the week, the agency’s social media channels will offer these messages and the various themes selected by Operation Life Saver for nationwide promotion. Sound Transit staff will also be out speaking with customers and reinforcing these track and train safety messages.

This year’s Rail Safety Week coincides with the first full week of service for the Hilltop extension of the T Line. The 2.4 mile at-grade extension more than doubles the length of the T Line and includes seven new stations. People in the Stadium and Hilltop areas should stay alert and be aware of the regular trains now traversing the neighborhood.

To promote rail safety in conjunction with the opening, Sound Transit, in partnership with Graduate Tacoma’s STEAM Network and Spaceworks Tacoma, sponsored a Train Safety Poster Contest earlier this year. More than 100 K-12th grade Tacoma Public School students entered the contest. You can read more about the contest and see the winning entries on the Sound Transit Platform.  

As part of its work to enhance safety in the Rainier Valley, this summer the agency installed Look Pavement signage at the Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach at-grade 1 Line stations as a pilot program in collaboration with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

In addition to Look Pavement signage, Sound Transit in partnership with SDOT has also installed dynamic messaging signage to alert pedestrians and cars to help further reduce potential accidents. The “Another Train Coming” signs are brightly lit LED signs to warn people to look for another train.

Another way we are helping to keep drivers safe are the railroad pavement markings for left hand turns and LED signage next to the traffic light signal. This lets drivers know when it’s safe and, more importantly, not safe to turn left over the tracks. These signs are installed at the Columbia City, Othello, and Rainier Beach at-grade stations.

Train safety is an important issue in the U.S. Every three hours in the U.S. a person or vehicle is hit by a train. More than 2,100 people are injured or killed annually in crossing and trespassing incidents in North America. More than 60% of collisions occur at crossing equipped with lights and/or gates.

For more information about staying safe around tracks and trains, please visit our blog post.