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Operation Lifesaver, Inc. notes drop in 2016 crossing collisions, rise in trespass incidents

By Operation Lifesaver

WASHINGTON, DC, March 21, 2017 – Recently-released U.S. government statistics reveal that vehicle-train collisions at highway-rail grade crossings fell 2.4 percent in 2016, according to Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) President and CEO Bonnie Murphy. She noted, however, that the number of people killed in these incidents rose 13.7 percent last year, and that deaths due to train track trespassing increased 12.8 percent. Total trespass-related casualties increased 14.5 percent from 2015 levels.

The national nonprofit rail safety education organization cited preliminary 2016 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics showing that U.S. crossing collisions fell in 2016, to 2,025 (from 2,075 in 2015); crossing-related fatalities rose from 233 to 265; and crossing injuries dropped 22.7 percent, from 1,032 to 798. Trespass casualties (deaths and injuries) climbed from 868 in 2015 to 994 in 2016; trespass deaths rose from 453 in 2015 to 511 in 2016; and trespass injuries grew from 415 to 483.

For 2016, the rail trespass casualty rate (deaths and injuries per million train-miles) is 1.45, its highest level in the last decade, and the highway-rail incident rate (incidents per million train-miles) is 2.96, an increase from 2015, Murphy noted.

States with the most crossing collisions in 2016 were Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana and Georgia. States with the most trespasser casualties (deaths and injuries combined) in 2016 were California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

“While we are encouraged to see highway-rail crossing collisions and injuries continuing their downward trend, we are very concerned about the increase in crossing deaths, trespass deaths and injuries,” said Murphy. “As we plan the observance of the first U.S. Rail Safety Week on September 24-30, we are working closely with the FRA, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration, along with freight, passenger and commuter railroads and other community safety partners to give Americans important information on how to keep themselves, their friends and their families safe near tracks and trains,” she stated.

“The Federal Railroad Administration shares a concern about increasing trespass deaths and injuries and crossing fatalities in 2016,” stated Karl Alexy, Director, FRA Office of Safety Analysis. “We will continue to address these safety challenges, working with Operation Lifesaver and all our partners and stakeholders, until we reach our ultimate goal of preventing these tragedies.”

About Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. A national network of trained volunteers gives free presentations on rail safety and a public awareness campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” provides the general public with tips and statistics to encourage safe behavior near the tracks. OLI will lead a national observance of U.S. Rail Safety Week, September 24-30, 2017. Learn more about U.S. Rail Safety Week; follow OLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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