Thursday, February 18, 2010

FRA zeroes in on trespassing fatalities

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The Federal Railroad Administration’s latest safety report, released Jan. 29, shows that trespassing caused 399 of the 649 rail fatalities reported in the first 11 months of 2009. This figure was down 7.2% from the prior year and 15% better than the 475 trespasser deaths reported in 2006. Now, the FRA is moving to further improve the record.

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The agency has announced that the City of West Palm Beach, Fla. and the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), among other partners, will participate in the Trespass Prevention Research Study. FRA said the SFRTA area experienced 10 fatalities due to illegal trespassing in the first eight months of 2008, half of which occurred in the West Palm Beach area. “Research done by FRA in the region will help the agency better understand trespassing issues and assist in the development of national guidanceon trespass prevention,” the agency said.

“Efforts like this research study have the potential to reduce the number of trespassing injuries and fatalities in a big way,” said FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo.

FRA said trespasser fatalities first surpassed the number of fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings in 1997. The new study “complements other efforts by the Federal Railroad Administration to combat trespassing, such as the 2008 Trespass Demographic Study and FRA’s ongoing partnership with Operation Lifesaver, Inc.”