JEFFERSON CITY - Pedestrian casualties while trespassing on rail tracks rose in Missouri in 2014. There were 20 pedestrian casualties last year, which is up 25 percent from 2013. Collisions with vehicles at highway-rail grade crossings in Missouri remained the same in 2014 with 48 collisions and two fatalities.
Crossing Statistics, Missouri Totals:
In 2013: 48 collisions, 2 deaths, 36 injuries
In 2014: 48 collisions, 2 deaths, 38 injuries (a 6% change)
Trespass Statistics, Missouri Totals:
In 2013: 16 all casualties, 12 deaths, 4 injuries
In 2014: 20 all casualties, 9 deaths, 11 injuries (a 25% change)
"We are glad to see a low number of highway-rail grade crossing fatalities for a second consecutive year, but are concerned with the increase in trespassing casualties on railroad tracks and property in Missouri," said Missouri Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Rick Mooney. "Educating the public to reduce trespassing injuries and fatalities continues to be a challenge. The tracks are not a place to walk or play. Stay Off, Stay Away, Stay Alive!"
Across the U.S., vehicle-train collisions and deaths at highway-rail grade crossings and from pedestrians trespassing on railroad tracks rose in 2014, while crossing-related injuries and rail trespass injuries were lower compared to 2013.
"These preliminary 2014 statistics show the continuing need to raise public awareness through our national ‘See Tracks? Think Train!' campaign," Mooney stated. "Operation Lifesaver, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, local law enforcement agencies, major freight railroads, and commuter and light rail systems, will be expanding the campaign and developing new educational materials to encourage Americans to make safe decisions around tracks and trains."
Railroad Crossing Safety Tips for Drivers
Never drive around lowered gates. Driving around lowered gates is illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the toll free number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
Never race a train to the crossing. Even if you tie, you lose.
Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed through a highway-rail grade crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on each side.
Get out of your vehicle if it stalls. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call your local law enforcement agency for assistance. If a train is coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris.
Watch out for a second train. If you are at a multiple track crossing and are waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.
Expect a train on any track at any time. Most trains do not travel on a regular schedule. Be cautious at a highway-rail grade crossing at any time of the day or night.
Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That's 18 football fields!
Do not be fooled. The train you see is closer and is moving faster than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
Cross train tracks at a designated crossing only. When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly without stopping. Remember that it isn't safe to stop closer than 15 feet from the rail.
Railroad Crossing Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Do not walk on or over railroad property - this is trespassing! Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine.
Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels. The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at a designated public crossing.
Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until you can see clearly around the first train in both directions.
Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing. Do not cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it is safe to do so. You can be fined for failure to obey these signals. The more severe penalty could be a serious injury or death.
Stay alert around trains. No texting, headphone or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.
Never mix rails and recreation. Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad bridges or trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not designed for public use and are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges!
Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.