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OLI: Trespassing fatalities rose in 2015, crossing collisions fell

More trespassers were killed on railroad property in 2015, but vehicle-train collisions and deaths at grade crossings were down compared with the previous year, Operation Lifesaver Inc. announced yesterday. Last year, U.S. crossing collisions dropped to 2,059, marking a 7.6 percent year-over-year decrease, OLI officials said in a press release. The figures are based on the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) preliminary data for 2015. The number of 2015 crossing fatalities also declined 7.6 percent to 244, compared with 264 in 2014. However, fatalities due to rail trespassing increased 7.6 percent to 512, and crossing-related injuries jumped 12.3 percent to 967, OLI officials said.

"We are encouraged by the drop in highway-rail grade crossing collisions and deaths, and will continue to work closely with FRA's grade crossing task force and our railroad and community safety partners," said OLI President and Chief Executive Officer Bonnie Murphy. "However, the increase in trespasser deaths shows there is more work to be done educating Americans about the crucial need to stay off train tracks." States with the most crossing collisions were Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Georgia. States with the most trespasser casualties (deaths and injuries combined) were California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois. This year, OLI will continue its "See Tracks? Think Train!" campaign, with a "strategic focus on emphasizing that it's illegal and extremely dangerous to use train tracks for recreational activities," Murphy said. For its part, the FRA will continue to take an "all-of-the-above approach" to addressing the challenge of crossing safety, Administrator Sarah Feinberg said in the OLI release. "The 2015 numbers show we are heading in the right direction, but our work is far from done," Feinberg said. "Too many people are still injured or killed at railroad crossings. We can do more." Feinberg has made crossing safety a top priority during her time as head of the FRA.

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