COLORADO SPRINGS — For Rail Safety Week (RSW), Sept. 19 through Sept 25, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is reminding motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to use caution when approaching rail crossings.

The responsibility of avoiding collisions with trains falls on the driver, pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcyclist, said CDOT. According to CDOT, trains always have the right of way by law.

“A train traveling at 55 mph requires a mile to stop – the length of more than 17 football fields – after applying the emergency brakes,” said CDOT in a press release.

CDOT warned the public that railroad tracks may not have gates or signals, also known as passive crossings, to prevent individuals from traveling onto the tracks. According to the agency, such crossings are common in rural areas of the state.

In 2021, Colorado had 25 traffic crashes involving trains, which resulted in 11 injuries and two deaths, states CDOT. Every year, 2,100 deaths or serious injuries occur near tracks and trains – often at at-grade crossings, as per the press release.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 2,145 highway-rail grade crossing collisions resulted in 235 deaths and 669 injuries across the U.S. in 2021.

“Safety at railroad grade crossings is a critical issue that we must address through improvements in signals and by reinforcing the need for all travelers to be extremely careful at train tracks,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT.

RSW raises awareness regarding the need for rail safety so that the public can make safe decisions around trains and tracks. The annual week-long event is a collaborative effort with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a national rail safety education organization. The “Stop Track Tragedies,” public campaign shows how rail-related incidents impact families and communities.