Collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in Kansas fell by 16 percent in 2012, and rail trespass casualties (deaths and injuries) fell by 18 percent according to the nonprofit rail safety education organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver.
The group cited preliminary 2012 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA, www.fra.dot.gov) statistics.
“We are relieved to see the reduction in highway-rail grade crossing collisions,” said Kansas Operation Lifesaver Executive Director, Julie La Combe. “However, educating a distracted public and overcoming photographer behavior in order to reduce trespassing injuries and fatalities requires constant vigilance.
“Despite the reduction in grade crossing collisions, the 20-year average for fatalities on railroad rights-of-way in Kansas is unchanged, primarily due to an average increase of trespassing behavior,” La Combe said. “The downturn in 2012 is a great start, but we can’t give up.”
Across the U.S., vehicle-train collisions and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings were lower across the in 2012, crossing-related fatalities were flat and rail trespass deaths and injuries rose from 2011, La Combe said.
Overall, Kansas crossing collisions were down from 44 in 2011, to 37 in 2012; crossing fatalities fell to 7; while crossing injuries rose 37 percent to 18, FRA statistics reveal. Fatalities to persons trespassing on railroad tracks and property were unchanged at 4. Trespass injuries fell 28 percent from 2011 to 5.
“It’s a continued challenge to be on the offensive to overcome the emerging problems with trespassers. The number of Americans killed while trespassing on train tracks continues to outpace fatalities from vehicle-train collisions. Every 3 hours someone is hurt or killed on train tracks,” La Combe stated. “KS Operation Lifesaver, in partnership with major freight railroads, state and local law enforcement, and transportation agencies, is expanding our efforts to encourage everyone of every age to make safe decisions around tracks and trains,” she concluded.