Security and Safety

FRA identifies railroad crossings with most incidents over last decade

Posted on April 27, 2016

Michael Rivera
Michael Rivera

As the next step in its ongoing efforts to increase safety at railroad crossings, the  Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a list of railroad crossings in the U.S. where multiple incidents have occurred in recent years.

The list includes 15 crossings where 10 or more incidents have occurred during the last decade, with five of the crossings on the list in the state of Arizona, which accounted for a total of 89 incidents and 14 injuries.

The list follows FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg’s recent letter to state DOT secretaries. The letter urged increased cooperation to improve safety at crossings and provided a detailed round up of federal financial resources and FRA expertise available to states.

“Knowing where repeat injuries and fatalities occur helps states focus their time and resources on areas where they can have an impact,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Preventing incidents and fatalities at railroad crossings is one of the Department’s top priorities, and I urge states to work with FRA to achieve this life-saving goal.”

FRA tracks safety data at the nation’s more than 200,000 railroad crossings. FRA data show there are 15 crossings across the U.S. where at least 10 incidents occurred over the last decade. While fatalities have not occurred at all 15 crossings, the potential for injuries and loss of life could be significant due to repeated incidents.

Many of the 15 crossings are at busy, multiple lane intersections in neighborhoods with significant truck traffic or have tracks crossings roadways on a diagonal. Many crossings close to a traffic intersection also have their warning systems interconnected to traffic lights. If sequenced and working correctly, these interconnected systems can help prevent vehicles from stopping over railroad tracks where there is limited roadway between the tracks and the nearby intersection, accordign to FRA.

In February, FRA reissued a safety advisory and sent a letter that called on states to partner with railroads to verify that these interconnected systems account for current highway traffic patterns. Fifty percent of the crossings on FRA's list have interconnected systems.

“I urge our state partners to join FRA in taking additional actions to improve crossing safety. I know that, together, we can do more to save lives,” Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg wrote to states in a letter. “FRA is ready and willing to help our partners in any way we can.”

Last year, FRA launched a new, comprehensive campaign to reverse the uptick in fatalities at railroad crossings. The campaign includes partnering with tech companies to use FRA data that pinpoints the country’s approximately 200,000 railroad crossings and add crossing alerts to map applications.

FRA has also worked with local law enforcement to increase enforcement around railroad crossings. In 2015, 244 individuals died at railroad crossings, down from 264 in 2014.

In March, FRA launched a redesigned website to serve as a one-stop shop to help drivers, pedestrians and law enforcement stay safe around railroad crossings. The launch follows the agency’s award of nearly $10 million in grants for nine projects in eight states to upgrade and increase the safety of railroad crossings along energy routes.

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