News is still coming in regarding the horrific train crash in New York City this past weekend, where a long train speeding along tracks in the Bronx suddenly jumped a curve and derailed, railroad car piling upon railroad car, resulting in four people being killed and over 60 people being injured in the train wreck.
The latest reports are that the cause of the train wreck was the train’s engineer falling asleep at the wheel, and while he did awaken in time to hit the brakes, it was too late to prevent the train from derailing – partly because the train was speeding along at over 50 mph above the train’s speed limit for that section of track.
Which brings up a question to everyone hearing this sad news story: how safe are trains in other parts of the country? The answer, at least for Indiana and Illinois, is not very.
Operation Lifesaver: Statistics Show Indiana and Illinois in Top 5 Most Dangerous States for Railroad Train Crash at Railroad Crossings
Operation Lifesaver is an organization dedicated to making railway traffic and train travel safer for everyone — both those on the train and those coming in contact with fast-moving trains at crosswalks, road crossings, and other traffic areas. According to Operation Lifesaver and data obtained from the Federal Railroad Administration, in 2012 there were 1,967 highway-rail crossing accidents — and both Indiana and Illinois were in the top 5 states with the most of these train wrecks.
According to FRA statistics, as compiled by Operation Lifesaver, 1,967 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2012. Approximately 63% of all Year 2012 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in a handful of states.
1. Texas 227
2. California 122
3. Illinois 108
4. Indiana 108
5. Alabama 90
Additionally, Operation Lifesaver has compiled research from the FRA regarding traffic fatalities in 2012 that occurred in highway-rail crossing accidents. Once again, Illinois and Indiana are among the top five in the nation in numbers of deaths in these kinds of train wrecks.
1. California 39
2. Texas 35
3. Illinois 26
4. Indiana 17
5. Florida 13
For Indiana and Illinois, Trains Are Especially Dangerous
For everyone in Illinois and Indiana, railroads provide needed routes to move cargo as well as an alternative to car, plane, or bus travel. However, walking on tracks, or driving across railroad tracks can be extremely dangerous and as the 2012 numbers reveal, have caused many, many train wrecks with serious injuries and deaths in our part of the country.
From Operation Lifesaver, here are some suggestions on how to be safe around railroads and moving trains:
- Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property. Walking or playing on them is not only dangerous, it’s illegal. Trespassers can be arrested and fined – the ultimate penalty is death.
- The ONLY legal, safe place to cross tracks is at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
- Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels.
- Do not walk, jog, hunt, fish or bungee jump on railroad trestles. They are not designed to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges; there is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass.
- Do not attempt to jump aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb, or your life.