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Operation Lifesaver highlights rise in vehicle-train collisions during 2010 in USA

Operation Lifesaver Inc (OLI) – the USA’s national non-profit rail safety education organization – has announced that an improving economy may have contributed to an increase in vehicle-train collisions, deaths and injuries in 2010, according to preliminary 2010 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics. The FRA statistics indicate that there were 2,004 vehicle-train collisions in the USA in 2010, up 4.2% from the 1,924 incidents in 2009. The 2010 collisions resulted in 260 deaths and 810 injuries, with crossing deaths up 5.3% and crossing injuries up 9.8% from the 247 deaths and 738 injuries in 2009. States with the most crossing collisions in 2010 were Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Louisiana.

USDOT figures also show that vehicle miles traveled in 2010, 299.9 billion according to the FHWA, were the third-highest ever. “With more people traveling on our roadways, there’s a greater chance for an incident to occur,” said OLI president, Helen Sramek. “The statistics show that as the USA pulls out of the recession and people are driving more, we need to redouble our efforts to educate the public about taking unnecessary risks at highway-rail crossings, because any incident is one too many.

“Another disturbing finding is the continued rise in pedestrian incidents on or near train tracks,” Sramek also noted. An additional 451 pedestrians were killed and 382 injured while trespassing on train tracks last year, versus 417 deaths and 343 injuries in 2009. Total trespasser deaths rose 8.2% and trespasser injuries rose 11.4% in 2010. States with the most pedestrian-train casualties, both deaths and injuries combined, in 2010 were California, Texas, Illinois, Florida and New York. “Despite overall gains in rail safety in the past decade, these latest statistics show that Operation Lifesaver must continue its work to educate drivers and pedestrians about the dangers present around tracks and trains,” Sramek concluded.

March 14, 2011

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