MINNEAPOLIS - Railroad tracks are used throughout the nation to connect cities and for transportation.

But there’s something about the way railroad tracks look on film. 

They add a touch of rust and industry.

In Minnesota, there are about 4,400 miles of railroad tracks. People sometimes use them as a backdrop for senior photos and wedding photos, but what they may not realize is they are putting themselves in danger. Not only are railroad tracks private property, so trespassing on them is illegal; they are also very dangerous.

Sheryl Cummings of Minnesota Operation Lifesaver says every three hours a person is hit by a train, and 900 people are killed or injured every year while trespassing on railroad tracks.

“What they don't realize is those tracks and that large object create an optical illusion," Cummings says. "It makes you believe that that train is further away and probably moving slower than it really is. A train moving 55 miles per hour, if it's a typical freight train, can take a mile or two to come to a complete stop.”

She says the sound of the train travels behind the engine and you won’t necessarily hear it. 

Cummings is mailing letters to local photographers about the dangers of shooting on railroad tracks. 

Cummings says, “The best way to keep yourself safe, is just to stay off and away. From 2015 to 2016 the number of people whose lives were lost as a result of trespassing on tracks like these in Minnesota, doubled.  When you talk about photographers, professional photographers, they are not only putting their clients in danger, they are putting themselves at risk of getting cited or getting fined.”