Despite numerous advancements in transportation technology, rail is still a massive industry. On the passenger side, ridership is increasing significantly in intercity corridors. On the freight side, it remains a very effective way to move goods across long stretches.
And yet, safety remains a critical issue for the rail industry. In mid-May, a train derailment along Amtrak’s Northeast corridor put the issue in the spotlight. On the freight side, the issue of individuals crossing train tracks at areas not secured by intersections remains a significant challenge.
The Federal Railroad Administration just announced a partnership with Google to provide information on all grade crossings via their incredibly popular Maps application. The effort comes as deaths from train-on-vehicle collisions increased between 2013 and 2014, which goes against a decades-long decrease of nearly 80% from the 1970s.
On the surface, it may seem surprising that accidents have increased in recent years. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception that trains move slow enough or are easily visible enough that it’d be very difficult to get struck by one. This ignores how difficult it is for a train to stop on short notice.
Recently, our client Union Pacific Railroad launched a campaign to raise awareness about the rise of high school photos being taken on or near railroad crossings. While emblematic of one’s next step in life, it ignores the inherent dangers of being so close to a dangerous area. Here’s one of the videos from their campaign:
The campaign is in line with other safety initiatives that Union Pacific and other transportation companies and authorities have launched in recent years. Being proactive with new technology partnerships, advocacy campaigns and streamlined regulations are part of the key to improving rail safety across the country.
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