Friday, February 06, 2015

Fatal accidents at railroad crossing are declining; from more than 1,000 in 1978 to 231 in 2013

Despite six deaths this week at a railroad crossing in southeastern New York, railroad crossings have become safer in recent years, with deaths at railroad crossings dropping from more than 1,000 in 1978 to 231 in 2013, Max Ehrenfreund reports for The Washington Post. The rate of accidents has also dropped during that time from 18 accidents per million miles traveled in 1978 to 2.8 in 2013.

Chris Pflaum, president of Spectrum Economics, an economic-analysis firm in Kansas City, "attributed the decline to a national effort to close unnecessary rail crossings, forcing motorists to travel up the line in small towns or rural areas to a single lighted and gated crossing," Ehrenfreund writes. "State transportation authorities have added gates and lights at other crossings so that in all there are fewer crossings marked only by a crossbuck." (Post graphic)

"Another life-saving innovation has been equipping locomotives with three headlamps instead of just one," Ehrenfreund writes. "A single light makes it difficult for passers-by to gauge the distance and speed of an approaching train. Meanwhile, the public is increasingly aware of the dangers of crossing the tracks." (Read more)

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