Amtrak is kicking off a rail safety campaign today to reduce the number of pedestrians who are killed or injured by trains, just three days after a 14-year-old student was struck and killed on the tracks in Pleasanton and less than a week after a woman was struck by an Amtrak train in Oakland.
The Common Sense campaign is a response to the high number of train-related fatalities in the state and the region.
California leads the nation in pedestrian-train fatalities, with a large percentage of them occurring in the Bay Area, according to Amtrak.
Last Friday, Evelyn Gonzales, a freshman at Amador Valley High School, was killed when she stepped in front of a passing freight train near her school in what police have determined was a suicide.
Last Wednesday, a 55-year-old woman was struck by an Amtrak train in Oakland. Her name has not yet been released.
The safety campaign, sponsored by state and regional government agencies and railroad companies including Caltrans, Caltrain, and Union Pacific Railroad, is focused on 18- to 34-year-olds, who make up more than a third of all pedestrian casualties on train tracks.
Operation Lifesaver, a national nonprofit group dedicated to rail safety, is also assisting in the campaign.
"Our goal for this campaign is to save lives by letting people know that walking or playing around train tracks or using railroad tracks as a shortcut is potentially deadly and always illegal," Operation Lifesaver president Helen Sramek said in a statement.
Robin Potter, the Fresno mother of a 15-year-old boy who died while playing on railroad tracks in 2008, spoke at the Common Sense campaign launch.
Authorities encourage pedestrians to only cross railroad tracks at designated public crossings. People should look both ways and listen before crossing.
Distractions such as cell phones or iPods should also be turned off when near train tracks so pedestrians can hear if a train is coming.
Other safety tips are available on the campaign's Web site, www.commonsenseuseit.com.