US Highway-rail crossing fatalities, train accidents

Washington, DC, United States of America – The safety performance of the nation’s railroads improved during the first half of 2005 as the overall number of rail-related accidents and incidents declined by 12 percent, according to preliminary data issued by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Statistics compiled over the first six months of 2005 show that, when compared to the first half of 2004, train accidents have declined by 10.1 percent, highway-rail grade crossing incidents are down 9.1 percent, and the number of people killed as a result of train-vehicle collisions at grade crossings has dropped by 11.7 percent. In addition, railroad employee injuries fell by 16.3 percent. However, the number of trespassers struck and killed by trains increased by 13 percent during the same six-month comparison period.

“We are moving in the right direction,” said FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman. “The trend is positive and encouraging, but will require continued vigilance by railroads, motorists, pedestrians and government at every level to maintain this momentum the rest of the year,” he said.

FRA is aggressively implementing the new National Rail Safety Action Plan to improve rail safety now and in the future, Boardman added. The Action Plan unveiled earlier this year targets the most frequent, highest-risk causes of accidents; increases the use of data to focus the agency’s inspection and enforcement resources; and accelerates research and development activities that have the potential to mitigate the largest risks. Many items have already been acted upon and incorporated into FRA’s safety program.

The Action Plan includes specific actions to address events caused by human factors and defective track that together comprise 70 percent of all accidents. It also addresses the safe transport of hazardous materials by rail and local emergency responder preparedness; and strengthens partnerships among federal, state and local officials, railroads, and rail safety organizations to further improve highway-rail grade crossing safety.

Extensive rail safety statistics and the National Rail Safety Action Plan can be found on the FRA web site at
www.fra.dot.gov.