The Missouri Department of Transportation announced the start of Rail Safety Week on Monday.

According to the department, each year, on average, there are 35 highway rail crossing collisions and five fatalities in Missouri, in addition to injuries and fatalities suffered by people trespassing on train tracks. 

“The goal of Rail Safety Week is to raise awareness of the need for rail safety education and empower the general public to keep themselves safe near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way,” said Bryan Ross, MoDOT’s railroad operations manager.

To promote rail safety in the state, the department has partnered with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a non profit organization dedicated to preventing collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings, with the support of educational programs across the U.S. 

In addition to Operation Livesaver’s Rail Safety Week activities, the Missouri Department of Transportation will be posting safety messages on its Missouri River Runner and MoDOT social media sites. To kick off the week long initiative, here are some reminders, the department has provided to help residents stay safe around railroads:

— Freight trains don’t follow published schedules; always expect a train.

— A typical freight train can take more than a mile to stop.

— The train you see is likely closer and faster-moving than you think.

— The only safe place to cross the tracks is at a designated crossing.

— Being on railroad tracks and property is not only dangerous – it’s illegal.

Rail Safety Week in Missouri runs through Sunday.