Non-Passenger Train Fatalities Still Rising: NTSB

They increased 8 percent in 2012, and the casualty rate this year is even higher, notes Robert Hall, director of NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations.

Robert Hall, director of NTSB's Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations, has posted an item on to the agency's Safety Compass blog urging members of the public not to trespass on or near railroad tracks. He begins by discussing the Aug. 20, 2012, derailment of a CSX coal train in Ellicott City, Md. Two college students had walked into the area where it happened "to sit on the railroad bridge; apparently they were texting and chatting before returning to their college classes later in August. While their intent seems innocent, their actions broke the law, since railroad tracks are private property. It also placed them in grave danger. When the CSX train derailed, some of its coal spilled over the bridge, killing both of them," Hall wrote.

He said NTSB is investigating this accident vigorously because it illustrates the growing problem of non-passenger train fatalities.

During 2012, 843 people were killed or injured near railroad tracks, and 356 more occurred through May of this year, "making this problem the Number one reason people are killed and injured by railroad trains. According to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis, non-passenger railroad casualties rose 8 percent, from 781 in 2011 to 843 in 2012, and the casualty rate for 2013 is higher still," Hall wrote. "At this time of year when students are returning to school, I encourage teachers and parents, as well as schools and communities, to raise their own awareness of this issue and educate everyone about the dangers of being around railroad tracks."

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