Two-Thirds of Rail Trespassers Who Die Use Drugs or Alcohol

The typical person who trespasses on railroad tracks and is killed as a result is young, white, high or drinking, but not necessarily suicidal, a new study performed for the Federal Railroad Administration says. In fact, the study estimates that suicides and probable suicides together account for 23 percent of all trespasser deaths. FRA posted it March 21.

Trespassers account for the largest number of fatalities in the railroad industry, about 500 per year. In order to better understand who these people are and why they're trespassing on railroad property, FRA secured this report analyzing 2002-2004 trespasser fatalities with help from a survey of medical examiners and coroners across the country. It concludes the average trespasser is most often a 38-year-old white male under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs with a median household income of $36,000. More than 25 percent did not graduate from high school. About two-thirds of all trespassers who died during the study period were estimated to have been using alcohol and/or drugs.

The report, "Rail-Trespasser Fatalities: Developing Demographic Profiles," is available at www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/tdreport_final.pdf. It includes a state-by-state breakdown, comparisons between trespassers' demographic profile and the general population, and recommendations for educational and outreach programs targeted to vulnerable communities.

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