NCDOT Trespassing Study to Inform Outreach, Engineering Efforts

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
AXIS thermal video camera systems with motion sensors were installed at known trespassing paths in Charlotte, Durham, Elon, Gastonia, Greensboro, Lumberton, Mebane, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Shelby.

AXIS thermal video camera systems with motion sensors were installed at known trespassing paths in Charlotte, Durham, Elon, Gastonia, Greensboro, Lumberton, Mebane, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Shelby.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has wrapped up a four-year study to develop a more complete understanding of trespassing on the state’s rail network.

“The Rail Network Trespass Statewide Severity Assessment and Predictive Modeling” study will be used to target outreach and engineering efforts “where trespassing on railroad tracks has been the biggest problem,” said the NCDOT, which supported and funded the work through its Rail Division and Research & Development unit. Researchers at the NC State University Institute of Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) conducted the study.

AXIS Communications thermal video camera systems with motion sensors were installed at known trespassing “hot spots” in Charlotte, Durham, Elon, Gastonia, Greensboro, Lumberton, Mebane, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Salisbury and Shelby. The information gathered was used to develop profiles of trespassing activity by season, month, day of the week, and hour of day for each location.

Rail Division officials said they were able to use the data collected to complete models of where trespassing is likely to occur in the future.

What’s next? The Research & Development unit will be designing an education presentation with case summary and trespass predictive models that can be delivered during Rail Division and ITRE outreach and training programs in the communities studied.

Additionally, the data will be used to further the Rail Division’s efforts in education, “supporting enforcement and providing engineering solutions that will help improve safety along the state’s rail corridors,” NCDOT said.

According to NCDOT, 22 people were killed while trespassing on North Carolina railroad tracks in 2019; the number of trespasser fatalities has remained steady from year to year.

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