The North Carolina Operation Lifesaver (NCOL) Board of Directors appointed Jim Westmoreland to serve as the Board Chair and President of NCOL at its first quarter meeting on February 25, 2021.
Westmoreland has served on the NCOL Board of Directors since July 2017 and has a passion for rail safety.
“Each year, we lose too many North Carolinians to unnecessary, rail-related incidents,” Westmoreland said. “With my appointment as Board Chair, I hope to raise statewide awareness of this issue and to work with my fellow Board members and rail safety partners to help reduce our numbers.”
In North Carolina in 2020, 12 people lost their lives in rail related incidents. Of this total, 11 fatalities involved pedestrians illegally walking on railroad tracks (trespassing) and being struck by passing trains. The other fatality occurred at a highway/rail crossing when a vehicle was struck by a train.
New Bern has had railroad traffic since a line was built through it connecting Morehead City and Goldsboro in 1858. Another line connected New Bern and Jacksonville in the early 1890s.
A fairly busy switching yard is located between the Greater Duffyfield and Riverside neighborhoods and connects inland traffic to and from trestles over the Trent and Neuse rivers.
A child in New Bern was critically injured in a railroad accident at the switching yard in 2017. (Article)
“If there is one important message I would like to emphasize to the public, it’s to be vigilant and alert around railroad tracks always,” Westmoreland said. “The most important warning systems you possess to avoid being involved in a rail incident are your senses of sight and hearing. Avoid distractions, like texting/talking on the phone or wearing earbuds/headphones, that limit your senses and impact your ability to properly react to your environment.”
Professionally, Westmoreland serves as the Interim Executive Director for Gateway Research Park in Greensboro and as a private transportation/local government consultant. He retired as City Manager from the City of Greensboro in April 2018, formerly served as a Deputy Secretary for Transportation in the NCDOT in 2011, and has more than 30 years’ experience in public and private sector municipal/state government and transportation.
NCOL Executive Director Margaret Cannell said, “Jim has been a valuable member of our Board and I look forward to his leadership in supporting our organization and our mission of reducing collisions, fatalities, and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.”
Cannell continued, “North Carolina is consistently ranked in the top 15 in the US in the number of rail-related incidents. Rail safety education and information is NCOL’s top priority – when you See Tracks, Think Train!
To schedule a virtual or in-person rail safety presentation, to view education and informational videos, or to learn more about Operation Lifesaver, visit www.OLI.org.
NCOL is a non-profit rail safety education organization. Our mission is to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks. See Tracks? Think Train! Follow us on on FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter.