"I urge drivers to always expect a train at a grade crossing and I ask parents and kids to talk about the need to stay away from railroad tracks," said Smith. "One incident is one too many and getting the word out about staying off of railroad property can help avoid needless tragedies."
This year, CSX partnered with Furniture Row Racing to sponsor Smith and the "Play it Safe" campaign, designed to help educate people about the importance of safety around railroad tracks. At selected races, Smith's No. 78 car bears a bumper sticker that says "I brake for trains," reminding everyone to stop at railroad crossings and obey any signs or warning signals.
Smith and CSX encourage everyone to exercise caution for these and many other reasons:
• It can take more than a mile for a train to come to a complete stop;
• Trains do not always operate on predictable schedules, so assume one could pass by at any moment and
• Tracks are private property and it's illegal and dangerous to trespass.
"Safety is a way of life at CSX. As the summer months bring warmer weather and outdoor activities, it's important to remember the dangers associated with trespassing on rail property and to use caution around railroad crossings," said Jim Marks, vice president of safety at CSX. "We remind everyone not to stop, walk or play on the tracks or near crossings."
To continue educating communities about the importance of safety around railroad tracks, CSX is hosting events around its network to commemorate Train Safety Awareness Week, including "safety blitzes" in many communities, training classes for first responders, safety train trips and awareness classes.
CSX also continues its partnership with Operation Lifesaver to raise awareness, which has been an important factor in significant reductions in crossing collisions, from 12,000 in 1972 to fewer than 2,000 in 2011. Other important factors include vegetation control to improve visibility and with support from public officials, closing unnecessary and redundant crossings.