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DOT Warns Against Taking Photos On Railroad Tracks

The abandoned railroad corridor that has become the American Tobacco Trail.
Durham Trails and Greenways 2011 Master Plan

The state Department of Transportation wants to remind high school students during prom and graduation season that taking pictures on railroad tracks can be deadly.It's also a class 3 misdemeanor to walk on railways, according to Roger Smock of the DOT’s BeRailSafe program.

All railroads are classified as private property. Crossing them anywhere outside of marked areas is trespassing, and a ticket isn't the only reason not to cross the tracks, Smock said.

“Many people die every year, just walking innocently, taking shortcuts, what have you,” he said. “Senior pictures, wedding pictures, bicycling, running or whatever draws [people] to that area. And many of them die or are seriously injured.”

Oncoming trains killed 23 pedestrians in North Carolina last year. Nationwide, that number was around 500. At least three of those cases was linked to photography.

BeRailSafe is asking parents, photographers and educators to warn teens that walking on rail tracks can be fatal.

Smock said many people don't realize that modern trains are very quiet. And he said the law doesn't stop many teens and newlyweds from posing pictures on tracks.

“I don't know what the draw is to the railroad other than there's a romanticism with the railroad,” Smock said. “We just want the folks to know that you can have that fascination, but you need to respect it. We just want you to be safe.”

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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