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Safe driving at rail crossings and near buses is emphasized

April 8, 2009

NEWARK, NJ — In an effort to help teen drivers operate vehicles in a safe manner near railroads and buses, NJ TRANSIT has provided two class periods of multimedia instructional material to 631 public, private and charter schools throughout the state.


The lesson plans, developed in partnership with Operation Lifesaver and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and approved by the state Department of Education, have been given to driver education teachers to supplement existing curricula.  The lessons were piloted last year at eight high schools, where teachers, administrators and students provided valuable feedback.


“These teaching tools are especially important for beginning drivers in New Jersey, where our extensive public transportation network almost guarantees interaction with rail crossings or transit buses,” said NJ TRANSIT Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts.


“We received favorable responses from the schools participating in the pilot program, and are pleased to now be offering the program statewide,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles.  “The students will receive valuable information that will help them develop lifelong safe driving habits.” 


Among the critical safety lessons emphasized in PowerPoint and DVD formats are:

  • Never stop on tracks.  If gates begin to lower, continue crossing to completely clear the tracks.
  • Never go around lowered crossing gates.  They indicate a train is approaching.
  • Before you start to operate a vehicle over a railroad crossing, be certain you have enough room on the opposite side to completely cross the tracks.
  • The law requires you to yield to transit buses that are re-entering the flow of traffic after making a stop.

"This new curriculum helps instructors raise the awareness of teenage drivers who will encounter trains, buses and light rail systems in one of the heaviest-populated states in the nation," said N.J. Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer.  "I'd like to thank NJ TRANSIT for taking the initiative to support New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's effort to reinforce safe driving behaviors for young drivers."


"We are excited about this partnership with NJ TRANSIT and hope that it serves as a model for the rest of the nation," said Operation Lifesaver, Inc. President Helen M. Sramek.  "Targeting new drivers is consistent with our overall strategy to prevent casualties at highway-rail grade crossings."


In addition to these new lesson plans, NJ TRANSIT promotes safety by visiting  hundreds of schools each year to provide age-appropriate safety lessons for elementary, middle and high school students.  In 2008, a total of 95,000 students at 286 schools were reached.


NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 895,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 164 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.