Residents warned to stay off railroad tracks

Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 3:47pm

Although many people think train tracks are open to public access, all railroad tracks are private property. That’s why Wake Forest officials are warning area residents to stay off the tracks year-round but especially during Friday Night on White and other downtown events.

Wake Forest Police have observed ever-growing numbers of people walking, playing and taking pictures on the railroad tracks in downtown Wake Forest during Friday Night on White. In response, additional police and event staff will be assigned to monitor the train tracks during the July 12 concert. Signage will also be posted warning the public to stay away.

Anyone caught trespassing on the train tracks may be subject to criminal charges. According to NC General Statute 14-280.1, “A person commits the offense of trespassing on railroad right-of-way if the person enters and remains on the railroad right-of-way without the consent of the railroad company or the person operating the railroad or without authority granted pursuant to State or federal law.”

Besides being illegal, walking along railroad tracks can be highly dangerous and even deadly. According to the NCDOT, 18 people were killed and 13 others injured in 2018 while trespassing on North Carolina railroad tracks.

The NC Department of Transportation is reminding residents of the following safety tips:

  • The only safe and legal place to cross railroad tracks is at designated public crossings.

  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property, and using them as photo backdrops is trespassing.

  • Trains cannot stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the railroad tracks.

  • It is difficult to determine a train’s speed from a distance. Trains typically overhang the track by at least three feet.

  • Never assume railroad tracks are abandoned or inactive.

  • Due to new technology, approaching trains are much quieter than you’d expect, so don’t assume you’ll hear one coming.