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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Operation Lifesaver: Climb in 2010 crossing collisions, trespassing casualties cause for concern


Last year, 2,004 vehicle-train collisions occurred at U.S. grade crossings, up 4.2 percent compared with 2009’s 1,924 incidents, according to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration statistics. The crossing collisions caused 260 fatalities and 810 injuries, up 5.3 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively, compared with 2009 data, according to Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI), a nonprofit rail safety education organization. Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Louisiana registered the highest number of crossing collisions last year, OLI said.

“The statistics show that as America pulls out of the recession and people are driving more, we need to redouble our efforts to educate the public about taking unnecessary risks at highway-rail crossings because any incident is one too many,” said OLI President Helen Sramek in a prepared statement.

In addition, 451 pedestrians were killed and 382 were injured while trespassing on tracks last year vs. 417 fatalities and 343 injuries in 2009, according to OLI. California, Texas, Illinois, Florida and New York recorded the most trespassing casualties (fatalities and injures combined).

The 8.2 percent increase in trespassing fatalities and 11.4 percent rise in trespassing injuries is “another disturbing finding,” said Sramek.

“Despite overall gains in rail safety in the past decade, these latest statistics show that Operation Lifesaver must continue its work to educate drivers and pedestrians about the dangers present around tracks and trains,” she said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/10/2011