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500 People Killed Every Year in Preventable Rail Crossing Accidents

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is reporting that 500 pedestrians get killed every year in preventable rail crossing accidents.  In fact, there has been more loss of life from pedestrian crossing accidents than car/train accidents.

In order to combat these numbers from growing, the FRA started the Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Program. The goal is to reduce the prevalence, popular indifference and social acceptability of trespassing. The program has good intentions, but I dont think that labeling people who cross or walk along railroad tracks as trespassers is a good way to start this endeavor. The FRA needs to admit the fact that many railroad companies may be liable for a rail crossing death due to a distracted conductor or mechanical error.

For example, a recent train crash which killed 25 people and seriously injured 135 was due to the fact that the train conductor was texting and not paying attention, according to Reuters. 

Im not saying the rail companies are always to blame. There are legitimate instances when someone was trespassing on a rail track and were seriously injured as a result of their negligence. However, a program designed to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths on the railroads should focus on both educating pedestrians AND educating train conductors on what exactly to do if they notice a pedestrian on the tracks. It's  not a one way street. All of the parties involved (pedestrians, rail companies, FRA) in these tragic accidents need to examine the areas that can be improved and implement those improvements so less people die needlessly. We can do a lot better than 500 rail crossing deaths every single year.


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