SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – According to Operation Lifesaver, a fatal train-vehicle collision happens every three hours in the United States. The most common cause cited for these accidents is negligence and recklessness on the part of drivers and pedestrians. Last year in the country, there were 8,558 incidents involving trains and vehicles/pedestrians resulting in 5,402 injuries and 783 deaths.
Each year in September, Operation Lifesaver partners with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), the Utah State Office of Education, the Utah Trucking Association, and the Utah Highway Patrol partner for National Rail Safety Month. The goal is to educate drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists about the life-saving significance of railroad crossing safety.
Transportation officials recommend following seven simple rules:
- Stop for flashing red lights
- Don’t race to beat the train
- Don’t turn left without looking for trains
- Don’t stop on train tracks
- Don’t drive around gates
- Don’t drive distracted
- Don’t cut in front of trains
Sheldon Shaw, director of safety and security for Utah Transit Authority joined ABC4’s Nick McGurk for an IN FOCUS discussion. He discussed data and statistics, trends when comparing the numbers to past years, the causes of these crashes, how positive train control systems make trains safer, trainings that they put their operators through, and how they plan on incorporating collision safety as they expand rail service.
Vern Keeslar, executive director of Utah Operation Lifesaver shared what their cause is about, why it’s important to him, data and statistics, the decrease in cases over the past few decades, the distinctions in categories of incidents, the financial impact of these collisions, and his message to drivers on taking rail safety seriously.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Shaw and Keeslar, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.