The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis released new statistics this week showing across-the-board improvement in U.S. railroad safety.
The new figures show that in this year's first seven months, train accidents were down 30.9% from the corresponding period in 2008 to 1,041; collisions dropped 31.8% to 73; derailments were off 32.8% to 738; and yard accidents declined 34.3% to 541.
Track causes were blamed for 344 train accidents, down 33.7%; signal causes for 28, down 3.4%; and human factors for 349, down 34.2%.
Highway-rail grade crossing accidents and trespassing incidents caused most of the 404 fatalities in this year's January-July period, a total that was down 20.2% from last year. There were 139 crossing fatalities this year, down 13.1%, and 248 trespassing fatalities, down 6.6%.
The 718 large and small railroads included in the FRA survey reported 12 employee fatalities this year compared with 14 in the same period last year.