Train Accidents, Crossing Collisions Fell in 2006

U.S. train accidents fell for the second year in a row, and rail crossing collisions also declined, according to preliminary 2006 rail safety data announced yesterday by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. "The aggressive actions we are taking to improve rail safety are paying dividends," she said. "As a result, many communities where trains operate are safer." Peter said 36 states experienced fewer train accidents in 2006 than they had in 2005.

The statistics released by the Federal Railroad Administration showed railroads in 2006 had 402 fewer accidents nationwide, a 12.4 percent drop. Derailments declined by 8.3 percent and collisions between trains decreased by 27.1 percent. Texas led the nation with 51 fewer train accidents last year, followed by Ohio (34), Nebraska (32), Indiana (29), New Jersey (24), and California (23).

Rail crossing collisions fell by 5.0 percent, but grade crossing fatalities increased by 1.4 percent to 362. Trespass fatalities, the leading cause of all rail-related deaths, increased by 14.5 percent to 530. FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman said that some of the safety gains are attributable to aggressive implementation of the department's National Rail Safety Action Plan which focuses on the most frequent, highest-risk causes of train accidents; optimizes the use of data to target federal inspection and enforcement resources; and accelerates research initiatives that hold promise to mitigate the greatest potential safety risks. For a state-by-state comparison of the data, visit www.fra.dot.gov/us/press-releases/139.

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