Safety Grant Targets Leading Causes of Rail-Related Deaths; Aims to Reduce Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Collisions and Trespass Incidents
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 (Washington, DC ) A $1 million safety grant will be used for public education and outreach programs to reduce fatalities resulting from highway-rail grade crossing collisions, pedestrian accidents and railroad trespassing, which together account for 96 percent of all rail-related deaths, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced today.
The grant will fund various activities of Operation Lifesaver, Inc, (OLI) a not-for-profit organization that provides educational and awareness programs to inform motorists about how to safely approach highway-rail grade crossings, and to prevent individuals from trespassing on railroad property. Specifically, the funds will be used for programs in more than 40 states, training for nearly 5,000 volunteer presenters and expand OLI’s ongoing national public service announcement campaign.
“In far too many cases trespass and grade crossings accidents are preventable tragedies,” said Acting FRA Administrator Robert D. Jamison. “To achieve additional safety improvements, it is critically important that motorists and other individuals be aware of what to do and not do when they are around grade crossings and other railroad property.”
Also, the OLI grant supports a major goal of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new National Rail Safety Action Plan to improve the awareness of the role motorists, railroads, States, and local communities each have in achieving grade crossing safety.
Since 1995, the number of highway-rail grade crossing collisions declined from 6.92 to 3.95 per million train miles operated; and the number of fatalities has decreased by 36 percent, to 368 in 2004. During the same time period, the trespass casualty rate declined from 1.43 to 1.14 per million train miles operated, although the number of trespass fatalities has remained fairly constant at about 500 annually.
This safety grant augments recent actions taken by FRA to improve grade crossing safety, including: issuing a Safety Advisory to the railroad industry stressing the industry’s role in preventing grade crossing accidents and its responsibilities after a collision occurs; publishing a final rule requiring the sounding of the locomotive horn at all public grade crossing unless the crossing is sufficiently protected by warning devices and other safety measures; and publishing a final rule requiring reflective materials on locomotives and freight railcars to give motorists an additional visual warning of a train at a crossing in poor weather or lighting conditions.