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Rail News: Safety

Operation Lifesaver: Rail trespass deaths, injuries on the rise


While the number of vehicle-train collisions and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings decreased in the United States last year, the number of crossing-related fatalities remained flat and rail trespass deaths and injuries increased, according to Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI).

Citing the Federal Railroad Administration's preliminary 2012 statistics, OLI officials noted in a press release that the rail trespass deaths and injuries were at the highest levels since 2008. Fatalities to people trespassing on railroad tracks and property rose 7.5 percent year over year to 442, while trespass injuries climbed 10.4 percent to 405 in 2012 compared with the previous year, they said.

However, U.S. crossing collisions were down 5.1 percent to 1,953 in 2012 compared with 2011; crossing fatalities remain essentially unchanged at 270; and crossing injuries fell 11.4 percent to 917, OLI officials said.

"We are gratified with the continued improvement in highway-rail grade crossing collisions, but educating a distracted public in order to reduce trespassing injuries and fatalities continues to be a challenge," said OLI President and Chief Executive Officer Joyce Rose in a prepared statement.

States with the most crossing collisions last year were Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana and Georgia. States with the most pedestrian-train casualties (deaths and injuries combined) were California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

"It's a sobering fact that the number of Americans killed while trespassing on train tracks continues to outpace fatalities from vehicle-train collisions," said Rose.

In partnership with railroad systems and law enforcement agencies, OLI is expanding its efforts to encourage people to "make safe decisions around tracks and trains," she added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/5/2013