What Railroads Should Do About Pedestrian Deaths

The Federal Railroad Administration has long advised railroads to take engineering measures to improve the safety of tracks and rights-of-way, such as fencing, landscaping, grade-separated crossings, and other barriers to prevent access. These methods are proven to reduce pedestrian access and firmly warn of danger, as well as providing a natural boundary.

Several states have passed laws requiring railroads to fence off tracks and rights-of-way to protect children and adults, including Minnesota. Unfortunately, railroads largely ignore the law. BNSF, which owns more mileage than any other railroad in Minnesota, states a “no public safety fencing” policy despite this clear requirement.

Another solution is to construct pedestrian crossings, overpasses, and underpasses that provide safe, practical ways to get from Point A to Point B without encountering the hazards of railroad tracks and trains.

In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrians killed by trains, the FRA has conducted workshops to educate and discuss solution with railroads. These measures are often ignored. Accidents and deaths occur that could have been prevented if the railroads had fenced off tracks or implemented other safety measures.

The skilled attorneys of Bolt Hoffer Boyd represent individuals severely injured in these accidents as well as the families of those killed.

Pedestrian Train & Railroad Safety

Ninety-six percent of all rail-related fatalities and injuries occur along railroad rights-of-way or at railroad crossings. Despite the railroad industry claiming these individuals are “trespassers,” nearly all these deaths and injuries are preventable by the industry itself through engineering solutions and safer operation practices. “Trespassing” along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Nationally, more than 500 trespass fatalities occur each year, the majority of which could have been prevented.

The FRA offers suggestions for pedestrian safety:

  • Stay alert. It is easy to become distracted, especially by phones, music, or 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 tracks.
  • Be especially cautious when crossing on a bike, with a stroller, or in a wheelchair. Wheels can get caught on poorly designed or maintained train tracks.
  • Always cross at a 90-degree angle, as wheels can become stuck on tracks not properly guarded.

While these steps may make being around railroad tracks and trains safer, only a committed effort by the railroads themselves to safety solutions such as lights and gates, grade-separated crossings, fencing and other barriers will make trains and tracks as safe as they should be.

Contact our experienced, knowledgeable railroad accident attorneys to schedule an initial consultation. We are dedicated to each unique railroad accident claim and to advocating for railroad safety improvements.


Our Railroad and Train Accident Attorneys

Call us today for a free consultation: 763.406.7000

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