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The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced that North American freight railroads held events in multiple cities yesterday in observance of the sixth annual International Level Crossing Day (ILCAD).Established in 2009 by the international railroad community in conjunction with various highway organizations, the European Commission and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, ILCAD aims to increase public awareness about safe behavior around grade crossings.Hosted by freight railroads, communities, law enforcement agencies and Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), the crossing safety awareness events and promotional programs conducted June 3 included "Officer on a Train" rides that enabled law enforcement officers to ride on trains and observe motorists' behavior at crossings; train safety displays placed in passenger and commuter-rail stations; participation in local television shows and children's programs; and the distribution of literature about a safety program targeting truck drivers."Safety is the foundation for everything we do, and supporting ILCAD gives railroads another opportunity to help educate the public about being safe around grade crossings," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a press release. "Education and outreach are key to saving lives, so it’s up to all of us to spread the word and make people aware of the consequences of risky behavior around railroad tracks."Efforts to promote crossing safety — such as a See Tracks? Think Train! campaign recently launched by OLI and AAR — have helped reduce crossing collisions and fatalities over the years, according to the AAR. In 2013, collisions were down 80 percent and crossing fatalities were down 70 percent from 1980 levels.However, vehicle-train collisions and fatalities at crossings, and pedestrian-rail trespass deaths and injuries in the United States increased last year versus 2012 levels, according to OLI. The organization welcomes this year's focus on professional truck drivers since about one in four crossing collisions in the U.S. involve a truck, OLI officials said in a press release."Our safety tips and materials specifically created for these drivers help prepare them to make every railroad crossing a safe one," they said. "Our new See Tracks? Think Train! safety education campaign was created to encourage drivers and pedestrians to make safety an automatic habit near train tracks."
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