Railroad grade crossing collisions and rail trespass deaths saw an increase in 2018, according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Safety Analysis.
In a statement from rail safety education nonprofit Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), Executive Director Rachel Maleh cited preliminary FRA statistics which reveal that U.S. crossing collisions increased by 4.3 percent last year, with crossing deaths remaining constant and crossing injuries decreasing by 2.9 percent from 2017 to 2018.
The recently-released U.S. government statistics reveal that total casualties—including deaths and injuries—from rail trespassing incidents went up 2.8 percent in 2018; trespass deaths climbed by 12 percent and trespass injuries decreased by 6.3 percent from their 2017 numbers.
“We are troubled to see that these tragic railroad crossing incidents and pedestrian trespass casualties continue to rise,” Maleh said.
She also explained that despite the negative figures, some indicators did improve in 2018.
“Crossing deaths were flat from the previous year, while crossing and trespass injuries both dropped,” Maleh said.
Rail Safety Week, which takes place from Sept. 22-28 in the U.S. and Canada, will continue its focus on these public safety issues, she added.
“These statistics show that our efforts to save lives, working with the FRA and safety partners at freight, passenger and commuter railroads, are more important than ever,” Maleh stated.
FRA Administrator Ronald Batory also emphasized the importance that the government and related transportation agencies continue bolstering efforts among all public, private and government stakeholders to prevent and reduce grade crossing collisions and trespass incidents.
“There is still much work to do, but through our longstanding partnership with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., more Americans understand how to safely traverse grade crossings and refrain from risky behavior along rail lines,” Batory said.
The following states experienced the highest numbers of crossing collisions in 2018: Texas, California, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The most trespasser casualties in 2018—including deaths and injuries combined—took place in: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey.