The Iowa Department of Transportation says the railways through Iowa were safer in the last year. The director of the D-O-T’s Office of Rail Transportation, Peggy Baer, says things were better in a couple of areas. She says there were less crossing accidents and less trains that went off the track. Baer says some of the decline is “happenstance,” but says some is due to more focus on safety.
Baer says there are things that can be done to make the railways safer. She says better engineering of crossings, better enforcement of laws and the better condition of the track all contribute to better safety. Baer says the number of accidents between cars and trains dropped from 77 in 2004 to 70 in 2005. While the number of accidents went down, the fatalities in those accidents went up one from five to six.
Baer says drivers may be more educated about what can happen if you race a train and lose. She says people are becoming more aware that it’s “no contest” if you get hit by a train, and it’s the automobile that will take the brunt of the damage.
Baer says there’s a nationwide problem with people trespassing on railroad tracks and getting hit by trains. She says Iowa has had the problem too. She says there were two fatalities in Iowa from people trespassing on railroad tracks. Baer says it’s illegal as well as very dangerous to walk on railroad tracks. Baer says more people are killed in the U.S. walking on railroad tracks than are killed in car-train crashes.