In 2014, more people were killed by trains when trespassing on tracks, when compared to previous years, according to recently released data from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). In fact, while there were 16 such fatalities in 2013, last year, there were 20 pedestrian fatalities on train tracks, representing a 25 percent increase.
Also released by MoDOT were the numbers regarding highway-rail accidents for 2014. These numbers remained relatively consistent with previous years, with 48 highway-rail accidents occurring in both 2014 and 2013 and with these accidents resulting in 2 fatalities (in 2013 and 2014, respectively).
Commenting on these highway-rail accident statistics, Missouri Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Rick Mooney stated:
We are glad to see a low number of highway-rail grade crossing fatalities for a second consecutive year, but are concerned with the increase in trespassing casualties on railroad tracks and property in Missouri… Educating the public to reduce trespassing injuries and fatalities continues to be a challenge. The tracks are not a place to walk or play. Stay Off, Stay Away, Stay Alive!
Preventing Highway-Rail Accidents: What Drivers Can Do
Here’s what MoDOT is recommending that drivers do in order to protect themselves, stay safe at railway crossings and reduce their risks of getting into highway-rail accidents:
- Stop at lowered gates in front of tracks – And never drive around lowered gates, even if you are in a hurry and the wait seems to be taking a long time.
- Don’t cross tracks if you think you’ll get stuck – If your vehicle is not in the best shape and crossing tracks smoothly is a gamble, don’t take this gamble. Find another route.
- Don’t stay in your vehicle if it gets stuck on tracks – If your vehicle stalls on train tracks and you can’t immediately restart it, get out of the vehicle and get as far away from it as possible. Then, call a nonemergency law enforcement number to report the stalled vehicle/get help.
- Always expect a train to be coming – Even if a train has just come by or the gates in front of the tracks have not been lowered, it’s best to always expect a train to be coming and to operate with the utmost caution when approaching and crossing train tracks.
For some more tips from MoDOT on what you can do to reduce your risk of highway-rail accidents, don’t miss the second part of this series. It will be published in early April.
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