Monday, June 04, 2001

Indiana railroad crossings among deadliest

The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Despite millions of dollars spent on improvements, Indiana's railroad crossings remain among the deadliest in the nation.


        Indiana spent $27 million to improve safety at 108 railroad crossings from 1997 to 2000, and the state plans to invest an additional $15 million on 100 crossings this year, The Indianapolis Star reported in its Sunday editions.

        Yet the seven deaths in train-vehicle collisions so far this year ties the state with Mississippi, Ohio and Texas for most in the United States, and Indiana consistently ranks among the top six states in such fatal crashes.

        Safety experts say there are two reasons: the sheer number of railroad crossings, and drivers who ignore them.

        Indiana has the fifth-highest number of railroad crossings in the nation. The state's 6,473 public crossings range from sleepy junctions at county roads to busy city streets. An additional 2,500 crossings are on properties such as mines, utilities and factories.

        “When you are fifth in total crossings, you can expect to always be near the top end in terms of crashes,” Steve Hull, a state Department of Transportation engineer, told the Star.

        Nearly half of Indiana's rail accidents occur because of motorists' misjudgments, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.


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