Chuggington on Track for US National Rail Safety Week
Trains play an important part in our society by transporting goods and people, but too many kids are injured or killed on or around railroad tracks. In recognition of National Rail Safety Week (September 20-26), Union Pacific Railroad, Safe Kids Worldwide, and the children’s TV animated series “Chuggington” today announced a series of resources designed to raise awareness, educate families, and prevent rail-related injuries and deaths involving children.
“Every five days a child is killed in a train collision and nearly every tragedy is preventable,” said Torine Creppy, president of Safe Kids Worldwide. “One way to prevent serious injuries and death is to educate parents and communities with the life-saving information they need to protect their kids. We’re proud to continue our partnership with Union Pacific and Chuggington to help make sure children of all ages are safe around trains and railroad crossings.”
In many communities, areas near train tracks are considered by young people to be a popular place to “hang out.” Many people, including kids and adults, walk along the tracks, cut across them as a shortcut, and pose for group photos and selfies without knowing the facts about trains:
- Trains are at least three feet wider than the tracks on either side.
- Modern trains are quieter than people might think.\
- Once a train starts to brake, it can take up to a mile for the train to completely stop.
“Children of all ages love trains, but it’s important for them to understand railroad tracks are not a place to play nor should they be used as a shortcut,” said Dan Blank, chief safety officer of Union Pacific. “Our goal is to embed these behaviors at a young age and, ultimately, create lifelong habits that are as ingrained as looking both ways before crossing the street.”
In the decade between 2011 and 2020, at least 687 children died as a result of a rail-related injury and more than 2,000 children were injured. Trespass incidents make up 67 percent of these fatalities and 50 percent of the nonfatal injuries. Teens, ages 15-19, are the age group most frequently impacted by trespassing incidents.
In an effort to reach and inform parents, and create a community of rail safety advocates, Safe Kids and “Chuggington,” with support from Union Pacific, have developed multiple resources and materials to inform parents, teens, and younger kids about the importance of rail safety.
The “Rail Safety Station” by Safe Kids, available at safekids.org/RailSafetyStation, is an online hub with sharable content for educators, community partners, parents, and caregivers. The goal of the “Rail Safety Station” is to create community advocates by providing customized resources, including lesson plans, fact sheets, downloadable activity sheets, a research report, outreach templates, tips, videos, and opportunities to share personal stories.
To help inform younger kids about the importance of rail safety, the stars of “Chuggington,” an animated TV series following the adventures of three young train engines Wilson, Koko and Brewster, deliver content highlighting the following three key rail safety messages on how kids and their families can stay safe around trains and railroad tracks:
- Don’t Walk Along Train Tracks. Walking near or on tracks is against the law and trains can overhang tracks by at least three feet.
- Only Cross Railroad Tracks at Marked Crossings. Crossings are marked by a crossbuck, lights or a gate. Look both ways before you cross.
- Wait for Trains to Pass. When lights are flashing or the gates are down, do not try to beat the train by rushing across tracks. Trains can take up to a mile to stop.