Law enforcement agencies to focus on railroad safety Sept. 24

Third annual “Operation Clear Track” emphasizes public education and enforcement related to rail crossing safety and dangers of trespassing on rail property

Release date: September 20, 2019

On Tuesday, September 24, the Wisconsin State Patrol will partner with local law enforcement agencies across the state to enforce laws and help educate travelers on the dangers associated with disregarding rail crossing signs/gates and trespassing on railroad property.

Sponsored by Operation Lifesaver and Amtrak Police, “Operation Clear Track” is now in its third year and represents the single largest railroad safety law enforcement initiative in the U.S. and Canada. On Tuesday, law enforcement agencies will target rail crossings with higher levels of motorist and train traffic watching for people trespassing on rail property and for drivers who disobey rail crossing signs and signals.

“Like all of our enforcement efforts, the goal of this initiative is public safety,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Major Adrian Logan. “Officers will take enforcement action when warranted, but the primary focus is to educate people on laws that serve to protect travelers and save lives.”

Officers are being provided railroad safety cards that will be distributed to motorists and pedestrians. The cards offer tips and information about rail crossing safety and dangers of trespassing on railroad property. Wisconsin has more than 3,300 miles of active train tracks and more than 4,000 public railroad crossings. In 2018 in Wisconsin, there were 39 train-related crashes that resulted in 12 injuries and four fatalities. In addition, three fatalities and three injuries resulted from people trespassing on rail property.

Rail safety tips for motorists and pedestrians:

  • Cross train tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Obey all warning signs and signals. Never drive or walk around lowered crossing gates;
  • Trains can take a mile or more to stop. Freight trains don’t have fixed schedules and can be seen any time of day. 
  • As you carefully cross railroad tracks, make sure you have enough room to get safely across. Getting stuck in traffic within a crossing is dangerous. Remember that trains overhang tracks by at least three feet on both sides;
  • Train tracks and rail yards are private property, so it is illegal and dangerous to trespass on rail property.

Locations where law enforcement officers will monitor rail crossings on September 24 include:

  • Racine County, Sturtevant, WI, WIS 11 near County H in Sturtevant
  • Kenosha County, Kenosha, WI, County S between WIS 31 and 88th Ave. 
  • Winnebago County, Oshkosh, WI, Washington Street and Broad Street
  • Marinette County, Town of Peshtigo, US 41 and Country Meadows Road
  • Douglas County, Superior, WI, 28th Street, one mile west of Tower Ave. 
  • Rusk County, Ladysmith, WI, WIS 27, one-half-mile north of WIS 8
  • Buffalo County, Nelson, WI, WIS 25, just south of WIS 35
  • Chippewa County, Chippewa Falls, WI, South Main Street and Park Ave.
  • Wood County, Rudolph, WI, WIS 13 near County DD 
  • Wood County, Nekoosa, WI, Prospect Ave/Old Highway 73

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov