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OLI Urges Eclipse-Watchers to Stay Off and Stay Away from Railroad Tracks and Property

By Operation Lifesaver

Rail Safety Education Nonprofit Offers Lifesaving Tips for Those Traveling and Viewing the April 8 Solar Eclipse

WASHINGTON, DC, April 4, 2024 – As excitement builds for the total solar eclipse in the U.S. on April 8, 2024, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), the leading rail safety education nonprofit, is issuing a vital reminder: Watch where you’re watching from and stay clear of railroad tracks and trains. With millions expected to witness the celestial event, OLI emphasizes the importance of staying off and away from railroad tracks, property and bridges to ensure a safe viewing experience.

“Whenever you see tracks, think train,” said OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh. “With a vast network of tracks spanning over 140,000 miles across the U.S., encountering trains, tracks and railroad crossings is highly probable during eclipse viewing. It’s crucial for everyone to prioritize safety.”

“Take extra caution and familiarize yourself with safe practices before venturing out,” Maleh continued. “Whether you’re driving to a new destination or observing the eclipse from your hometown, know the facts, recognize the signs and always make safe choices – especially around railroad tracks and trains.”

OLI shares these facts for drivers and pedestrians:

  • Every 3 hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
  • Trains always have the right-of-way.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. It can take a train a mile or more – the length of 18 football fields – to stop.
  • Railroad tracks are private property. Being on them or close to them is dangerous and illegal.
  • Trains may be quieter and closer than they appear - an optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train's distance from you.
  • Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America, followed by railroad crossing incidents.
  • More than 60% of vehicle-train collisions occur at active railroad crossings with either crossing lights or gates.
  • Trains overhang tracks.

Rail Safety Tips: Stay off! Stay away! Stay safe!

  • On trestles (train bridges) and in tunnels there is only room for the train. Stay off! Stay away! Stay safe!
  • Always expect a train at any crossing at any time. Trains will continue to run during the eclipse.
  • Trains can run on any track, at any time, in either direction.
  • Multiple tracks mean multiple trains.
  • Never walk, bike, ATV or play on or near railroad tracks. It’s illegal and dangerous! Stay off and stay away from railroad tracks.
  • Designated crossings are the only safe and legal place to cross railroad tracks – for both drivers and pedestrians. 

For drivers embarking on eclipse-viewing journeys, here are some Rail Safety Travel Tips:

  • Recognize the rail safety signs along the roadway.
  • Obey crossing signals. If lights are flashing and/or gates are down – a train is coming (whether you can see or hear it or not) and you must stop.
  • Never try and beat a train or go around lights and gates.
  • If your vehicle won’t fit completely across the tracks, don’t commit. Leave at least 15 feet between the railroad track and the front and back of your vehicle.
  • Stuck or stalled on the tracks? GET OUT! GET AWAY!  FIND THE BLUE AND WHITE SIGN. If your vehicle gets stuck or stalls at a crossing, get everyone out and far away immediately, even if you do not see a train. Call the number on the Blue and White Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign and share the crossing ID number with the dispatcher. No sign? Dial 911.

“Educate your loved ones and peers on the importance of rail safety. Together, we can prevent tragedies and ensure everyone enjoys the eclipse safely,” Maleh concluded.

More rail safety tips, videos, public service announcements and facts can be found on OLI’s Track Safety Basics page: OLI offers free online rail safety assets for a variety of audiences to share including videos, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), infographics and social media graphics (as shown below) as well as educational materials for children in grades K-12, coloring books, activity books, videos and tips for new drivers at


About Operation Lifesaver  

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) is a national #RailSafetyEducation nonprofit dedicated to stopping track tragedies through public awareness and education campaigns as well as a national volunteer network that gives free presentations encouraging safe behavior near tracks and trains. OLI supports the efforts of 47 state programs and the District of Columbia in sharing the rail safety education message. Explore OLI's virtual library of rail safety materials on the website. Visit to learn more, take a rail safety pledge, request free presentations and volunteer. Follow OLI on social media via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter/X and YouTube.


An image showing railroad signs and signals


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