Operation Lifesaver, Inc. hails drop in 2015 crossing collisions, notes increase in trespass deaths
WASHINGTON, DC, March 15, 2016 – Vehicle-train collisions and deaths at highway-rail grade crossings fell in 2015, along with injuries to pedestrians trespassing on train tracks, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) President and CEO Bonnie Murphy said today. In contrast, the number of people killed while trespassing on train tracks rose compared to 2014, as did the number injured as a result of crossing collisions.
The national nonprofit rail safety education organization cited preliminary 2015 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics showing that U.S. crossing collisions fell by 10.1 percent in 2015, to 2,059 from 2,291 in 2014; crossing-related fatalities dropped 7.6 percent to 244 vs. 264 in 2014; and trespass injuries fell 4.3 percent to 398 from 416 in 2014. Fatalities from rail trespassing increased by 7.6 percent in 2015 to 512 (vs. 475 in 2014), while crossing-related injuries increased 12.3 percent in 2015 to 967 (vs. 861 in 2014).
For 2015, the rail trespass casualty rate (deaths and injuries per million train-miles) is 1.23, its highest level in the last decade, and the highway-rail incident rate (incidents per million train-miles) is 2.79, the lowest since 2012, Murphy noted.
“We are encouraged by the drop in highway-rail grade crossing collisions and deaths, and will continue to work closely with FRA’s grade crossing task force and our railroad and community safety partners.” Murphy pointed out. “However, the increase in trespasser deaths shows there is more work to be done educating Americans about the crucial need to stay off train tracks,” she stated.
"The 2015 numbers show we are heading in the right direction, but our work is far from done. Too many people are still injured or killed at railroad crossings. We can do more," said Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg, Federal Railroad Administration. "The FRA will continue to take an all-of-the-above approach to address this decades-old safety challenge, working with Operation Lifesaver and all our partners and stakeholders, until we reach our ultimate goal of preventing all crossing fatalities and injuries."
States with the most crossing collisions in 2015 were Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Georgia. States with the most trespasser casualties (deaths and injuries combined) in 2015 were California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois.
“Our ‘See Tracks? Think Train!’ campaign will continue this year, with a strategic focus on emphasizing that it’s illegal and extremely dangerous to use train tracks for recreational activities,” Murphy continued. “Operation Lifesaver, in partnership with freight railroads, passenger and commuter rail systems, state and local law enforcement, and transportation agencies, will combine new educational materials with innovative outreach to key audiences, including new drivers, to encourage lifesaving behavior around tracks and trains,” she concluded.
About Operation Lifesaver
Operation Lifesaver's mission is to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way. A national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety. Learn more at http://www.oli.org; follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.