Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rail related fatalities up 3.5% in 2016

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Railroad fatalities were up in 2016 as compared to 2015, following the overall trend upwards for total transportation deaths, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).


Highway fatalities at 37,461, accounted for 95% of all transportation deaths in 2016. Deaths attributed to the rail sector accounted for 733 with 266 grade-crossing deaths. NTSB explains that while grade-crossing fatalities are tracked as a separate category, they are included in the overall highway and rail numbers.

The number of rail deaths represents a 3.5% increase over 2015 numbers, 733 from 708, with 487 deaths or 66.4% the result of trespassing. Of the total rail numbers, 660 fatalities occurred on freight, passenger and commuter rail property while 73 occurred on rail transit systems.

"Unfortunately, we continue to see increases in transportation fatalities," said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. "We can do more, we must do more, to eliminate the completely preventable accidents that claim so many lives each year. Implementation of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements has the greatest potential to reverse this alarming trend."

The NTSB developed a list of 10 action items for the most recent edition of its Most Wanted List. The rail industry has a stake in nine of them including:

  • Eliminate Distractions
  • Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents
  • Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight
  • End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation
  • Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies
  • Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety
  • Require Medical Fitness
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection
  • Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials

While the Most Wanted List doesn't directly address the biggest area of rail-related deaths, trespassing, efforts by groups, such as Operation Lifesaver are aiming to better educate the public on the dangers of trespassing on railroad property.

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