Stretching for miles and seemingly rarely traveled, train tracks can evoke a feeling of nostalgia, free-spiritedness or wanderlust, however, the reality is that train tracks are a dangerous area and the scene of various life-threatening and fatal accidents each year.
In an effort to reduce these tragic events, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued the first National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property to Congress.
The report examines the causal factors that contribute to trespassing incidents on railroad property, and responds to a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations request.
(Mark Kalina Jr. survived being run over by a freight train, but he lost both legs in the accident. In a gripping new safety video produced by Norfolk Southern, Kalina warns of the tragic consequences of trespassing on railroad tracks. Courtesy of 3BL Media and YouTube. Posted on Sep 3, 2015.)
“Almost every trespasser death or injury is preventable and FRA is working to intensify our efforts,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory.
“Now that we have examined current data on contributing factors of the problem, we are seeking to energize our state and local partners to implement solutions and save lives.”
The FRA examined trespasser casualties over a four-year period (Nov. 2013 to Oct. 2017) and identified the top ten counties in the United States where the most pedestrian trespasser casualties occurred in the report.
Those ten counties include Los Angeles, California; Cook (Chicago), Illinois; San Bernardino, California; Harris (Houston), Texas; Broward, Florida; Palm Beach, Florida; Fresno, California; Riverside, California; Contra Costa, California; and San Diego, California.
The National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property report shows that, excluding suicides, 4,242 pedestrians were killed or injured while trespassing on railroad property nationwide during this time period.
Preventing trespasser casualties and injuries is a high priority for FRA as part of the Department’s safety mission.
(Metrolink authorities told ABC News Greg Plitt was filming on the tracks with two other people without a permit. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Jan 19, 2015.)
In October 2018, FRA convened a Trespasser & Grade Crossing Fatality Prevention Summit at its headquarters in Washington, DC.
Secretary Chao, Administrator Batory, representatives from other DOT modal administrations, and key stakeholders from the rail industry, law enforcement, and the navigation industry attended the meeting to discuss strategies to reduce grade crossing and trespasser fatalities, as well as to solicit ideas to develop and implement a comprehensive national plan and strategy.
FRA looks forward to coordinating and working with all stakeholders to prevent trespassing incidents, and this report is an important step forward in the continued effort to improve rail safety.
FRA’s National Strategy to prevent trespassing on railroad property includes four strategic focus areas:
Data gathering and analysis
Community site visits
Partnerships with stakeholders
Data gathering and analysis of trespass incidents and close-calls will enable FRA to target its resources to trespassing “hot spots.”
Conducting community site visits will help FRA to learn more about the specific local circumstances that contribute to trespassing and work with partners to help implement and evaluate targeted mitigation strategies.
Requesting and providing funding will support community-based efforts to deter trespassing.
(Two Chicago Police Officers were tragically killed in December 2018 while in pursuit of a suspect. Authorities said the police officers both were young fathers and had been on the force for less than three years. Courtesy of ABC News and YouTube. Posted on Dec 18, 2018.)