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North Carolina DOT holds safety summit to address mounting rail fatalities


The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) hosted a rail safety summit on June 20 in Chapel Hill to address an unusually high number of vehicular and trespasser fatalities that have occurred along rail lines in the state since January.

Fifteen people have been killed in grade crossing accidents or trespassing incidents so far this year compared with 18 fatalities in all of 2012, according to NCDOT data.

During the summit, more than 100 community leaders and law enforcement groups from across the state discussed ways to improve rail safety education, and discourage distracted drivers and trespassers on and around tracks. Speakers included North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, Amtrak Police Chief Polly Hanson and North Carolina Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan.

"Safety is always our top priority, and these tragedies are absolutely devastating, especially because in most cases they could have been prevented," said Tata in a press release. "We must work quickly to help curb these tragic occurrences and find more effective methods to get the word out to everyone to stay off the tracks."

The ideas and suggestions generated by summit participants will be considered by NCDOT Rail Division staff members while they develop an overall rail safety plan. The summit was part of a collaborative effort that began with a rail safety roundtable led by Tata in February, NCDOT officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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