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A North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)-funded study could help save lives by giving officials a better tool to prevent people from getting hit by trains.
The four-year study used thermal cameras to develop a more complete understanding of the extent of pedestrian trespassing on North Carolina's rail network, NCDOT officials said in a press release.
Conducted by researchers at the Institute of Transportation Research and Education (ITRE), the study was funded by the department's Rail Division and Research and Development unit. Officials intend to use the study to target their outreach and engineering efforts to areas where trespassing on railroad tracks has been the biggest problem.
Rail Division officials were able to use data they collected to complete models of where trespassing is likely to occur in the future. Thermal video-camera systems with motion sensors were installed at known trespassing paths in Charlotte, Durham, Elon, Gastonia, Greensboro, Lumberton, Mebane, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Shelby.
For the project's next steps, the research and development unit will design an education presentation with case summary and trespass predictive models delivered through outreach and training activities, provided by the Rail Division and ITRE, in the communities study. The data will be used to advance the Rail Division's efforts in education, supporting enforcement and providing engineering solutions that will help improve safety along the state's rail corridors.
Trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in North Carolina. In 2019, 22 people were killed while trespassing on railroad tracks. The number of trespasser fatalities has remained steady from year to year.
The entire report is available here.