Operation Lifesaver Says Distracted Driving a Factor in Railroad Crossing Crashes

WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2009 - Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI, http://www.oli.org), the national, nonprofit railroad safety education organization, says federal statistics show that inattentive drivers contribute to approximately three percent of all vehicle-train crashes at highway-rail grade crossings; and that 20 percent of grade crossing collisions involve motor vehicles striking trains at a crossing. These statistics are relevant as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood convenes a September 30-October 1 Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC.

“Distracted driving can lead to serious consequences at highway-rail grade crossings,” says OLI President Helen M. Sramek, who is attending this week's summit. “In addition to the tragic deaths and injuries caused by car-train collisions, these events also are costly for communities. Emergency responders and roadways can be tied up for hours, keeping responders from other community emergencies and drivers from their jobs and homes.”



A total of 2,397 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2008, resulting in 286 deaths and more than 900 injuries.

Federal Railroad Administration statistics show that in 78 of these vehicle-train collisions, the cause was listed as ‘highway user inattentiveness,’ resulting in 14 deaths and 117 injuries. Through the first six months of 2009, there were 34 highway-rail grade crossing incidents caused by highway user inattentiveness, resulting in 6 deaths and 52 injuries.

Other FRA statistics show that in 488 of last year’s grade crossing collisions the vehicle ran into a train already present at the crossing. Of those crashes, more than 60 percent were at crossings equipped with either gates or flashing lights, while just over 33 percent occurred at crossings with either stop signs or crossbuck warning signs.

“Although these collisions may have other causes, text-messaging or other distractions may be contributing factors,” said Sramek. “In one incident reported by a major railroad, the motorist stopped on the track to answer the phone; another railroad notes that in more than 41 percent of the incidents where a vehicle hit a train, the vehicle did not stop.”

Sramek noted, “By reminding drivers to focus on the road, to be alert for grade crossing advance warnings signs and signals, and to always expect a train at every crossing, we can help save lives.”

About Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. is a national, non-profit safety education group whose goal is to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights of way. Operation Lifesaver has programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with trained and certified presenters who give free safety talks to community groups, schools, school bus drivers, truck drivers and community organizations to raise awareness of the need for caution around railroad tracks and trains. For more information, including driving safety tips and to request a free safety presentation in your community, visit www.oli.org. 

Media Contact

Operation Lifesaver, Inc. understands the importance of the news media’s role in helping the public make safe decisions around tracks and trains.

To request further information about Operation Lifesaver’s activities, or for additional safety information, email general[at]oli.org or contact our national headquarters office at 703-739-0308.

If you are a reporter seeking information for a local news story, view our list of state Operation Lifesaver program contacts.

If you are on deadline for a story and would like Operation Lifesaver, Inc.'s perspective on a highway-rail safety or trespass prevention topic, email news[at]oli.org

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 trespassing on or near railroad tracks. Our team consists of nationwide network of volunteers who work to educate people about rail safety, state coordinators who lead the efforts in states across the U.S. and a national office in Washington, D.C., that supports state programs, develops education materials, and creates public awareness campaigns for audiences of all ages. 

 

National Office

Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
425 Third Street SW, Suite 915
Washington, D.C. 20024

703-739-0308
Fax: 703-519-8267
Email : [email protected]

Media Inquiries: [email protected]

Transit Inquiries: [email protected]

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