Rail safety group: Vehicle-train collisions, fatalities rise in 2014

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Washington – An increase in vehicle-train collisions and fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings has prompted rail safety group Operation Lifesaver and other advocates to renew calls for drivers to use extra caution near tracks.

Collisions between vehicles and trains increased to 2,280 in 2014 from 2,096 in 2013, according to preliminary statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration. Meanwhile, fatalities increased to 267 from 231 during the same time span.

States with the highest number of highway-rail grade crossing collisions in 2014 were Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Georgia. Of the 267 highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, California led all states with 31, followed by Illinois with 21 and Texas with 20.

Rail safety advocates said the uptick in collisions and fatalities offers a reminder about the dangers of distracted and reckless driving near highway-rail grade crossings. Operation Lifesaver states that drivers never should try to beat a train across the tracks; never go around lowered gates; and proceed through a crossing only when certain that you can clear the tracks.