RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is urging the public to pay more attention around railroad tracks and crossings as part of Rail Safety Week (Sept. 20 to 26).

A person or vehicle is hit by a train every four hours in America, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In North Carolina this year, there have been 34 crossing crashes, resulting in six fatalities and eight injuries. Additionally, 20 known incidents of people walking on tracks resulted in 11 fatalities and six injuries.

Sadly, those are 17 people who didn't go home to their families,” said Jason Orthner, director of NCDOT’s rail division. “Tracks are for trains, not people. These accidents are preventable if you stay off and away from the tracks.”

The department’s rail division wants people to remember these lifesaving tips:

Trains always have the right-of-way, even when emergency and law enforcement vehicles are involved.

Always stop your vehicle when crossing gates are down or lights are flashing. Never drive around the gate or race a train to the crossing.

It can take more than a mile for a train to stop.

It is hard to determine a train’s speed from a distance.

Trains typically overhang the track by several feet. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit.

Never assume railroad tracks are abandoned or inactive.

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