Minnesota Railroad Collisions Up 17 Percent in 2017

March 16, 2018 05:20 PM

2017 was a dangerous year at railroad crossings throughout Minnesota.

RELATED: Rail Industry says Key Safety Technology Not Due until 2020


The state saw 34 collisions at public crossings in 2017, a 17 percent increase from 2016, when there were 29 collisions, according to new Federal Railroad Administration statistics. Meanwhile, there was just a 3 percent increase nationally.

Minnesota Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Sheryl Cummings said she can't explain the increase, but she can explain the root cause.

"There's no new news," she said. "It's still impatience, it's still disregard for traffic control devices, it's still distractions."

How to Improve Rail Safety (According to the Federal Railroad Administration)

As a Motorist:

  • Be prepared to stop at the crossing
  • Slow down, look both ways, and listen
  • Understand the signs and warning devices
  • Check that you have enough room on the other side of the tracks for your vehicle to cross safely
  • Never race a train
  • Never stop on the tracks

As a Pedestrian:

  • Stay alert-- it is easy to get distracted, especially by phones, music, and conversation 
  • Stop, look both ways, and listen
  • Follow all signs and instructions
  • Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings
  • Cross quickly, never stop on the tracks
  • Cross at a 90 degree angle if crossing with a bike, stroller, or wheelchair, as your wheels can become struck

At a Passive Crossing (without active warning devices):

  • Be extra cautious as passive crossings do not have flashing lights and gates
  • Be prepared to stop at the crossing
  • Slow down, look both ways, and listen
  • Understand the signs
  • Never race a train
  • Never stop on tracks

And here's another important point: safety measures alone can't keep you safe. One third of Minnesota's collisions occurred at crossings with gate arms, and nearly 75 percent happened at crossings with active warning devices or stop signs.

"Clearly, education is that last piece that really needs that extra push. If we're not using those tools, they can't help us," Cummings said.

The new Federal Railroad Administration numbers did contain some good news too. Minnesota saw a decrease in the number of people who were killed or seriously injured as a result of trespassing on railroad tracks. That's despite a national increase.


Josh Rosenthal

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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