Norfolk Southern, Operation Lifesaver team up to promote train safety

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BULLS GAP, Tenn. (WVLT) -- "See tracks? Think train!" That's the name of a new nation-wide safety campaign. Norfolk Southern and other railroads have teamed up with the non-profit, Operation Lifesaver.

The group's safety train is making its way to 9 cities in Tennessee and Virginia. It's all part of a 5 day, 364 mile trip to raise awareness about being alert and staying safe around railroad tracks.

From Cleveland, Tennessee to Lynchburg, Virginia -- the train has one goal.

“Make people more aware of railroad safety and what the railroads actually do,” says Norfolk Southern locomotive engineer, Bill Clevenger.

The people behind Operation Lifesaver also have news for trespassers. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, nearly 1,200 people were severely injured or died at railway crossings last year and more than 900 others were hurt or killed while trespassing on tracks.

"Trains create an optical illusion that makes people think they're going much slower than they actually are,” says Wayne Manning, who works for Norfolk Southern.

The reality is, a train can weigh up to 6,000 tons and it can take the length of 18 football fields to stop.

Manning says, "Always look and listen before you cross the railroad tracks."

“We can blow our horn, but that's as far as we can go,” adds Clevenger.

For train conductors and engineers, accidents on the tracks are something they see too often.

“It causes us great emotion because there's nothing we can do about it, we're powerless to stop it,” says Clevenger.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every 3 hours somewhere in the country. The safety train will end its trip in Lynchburg, Virginia on Friday.

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