The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently held a Grade Crossing Safety Summit in an effort to reduce trespassing and grade crossing deaths to zero (FRA launches initiative to eliminate trespasser and grade crossing deaths). The October 29 summit was described by FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory as the “pre-game and kickoff” of a program to explore new ideas to prevent people in vehicles and on foot from being killed by railroads.
Batory noted that the railroad industry has seen improvements in safety over the years. In the 1970s, there were over 10,000 fatalities per year at approximately 200,000 grade crossings. That number has fallen to only 1,500 deaths per year at around 100,000 crossings. “It’s still 1,500 too many, and they’re all preventable,” said Batory.
The “Three Es” of railroad crossing and trespasser safety are Engineering, Education, and Enforcement. Batory suggested adding two more: Evaluation and Evolution. “We need to inject more technology into each of the Es and make everything we do more robust, more dynamic and interactive, with risk elimination at the forefront,” Batory said.
While stressing that technological advancement is crucial, Batory cautioned against the dangers of excessive regulation. “Technology will move faster than the ink can be applied or dried [on regulations],” said Batory. Overregulating technology will cause it to “pass us up. Technology is our key to our future.”
The summit featured over 200 representatives from a variety of industry groups, including safety advocacy groups, law enforcement, railroads, and suppliers, collaborating to “reset the stage for determining the future by respecting the past,” according to Batory.
“We must not fear failure. It can only inhibit constructive and sustainable change,” Batory said. “Tomorrow is now. Time is money, but money does not buy safety. Safety never waits or sleeps. Safety is you and me. It is our responsibility and moral obligation to maintain it, and to make a safer world for us to live in.”
It is good to see the FRA emphasize the use of technology to make grade crossings safer, but it remains to be seen whether the railroad industry will ever truly put the safety of the American people ahead of corporate profits. If you have been injured in a railroad crossing accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.