AUSTIN, Texas - A new report shows that Texas ranks highest for the number of train collisions in the country. The report is based on the latest full-year statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration.
According to the FRA, in 2019, Texas recorded 251 highway-rail incidents. That number has been on the rise since 2016. The FRA counted 31 highway-rail causalities in Texas for 2019, which is second, behind California with 51.
“With the number of recent train collisions on the rise year-to-year in Texas, it is important to remind drivers and pedestrians to stay safe around train tracks,” AAA Texas spokesperson Joshua Zuber said. “When you encounter a train crossing, whether driving or walking, always take extra precautions.”
According to the FRA, Harris County had the greatest number of highway-rail incidents totaling 38 in 2019, followed by Dallas County with 15.
If you want to stay safe around trains, TxDOT recommends drivers:
- Slow down when approaching crossings and look both ways.
- Turn down your stereo and listen for a train.
- If red lights are flashing or if crossing arms have been lowered, stop.
- Never stop on the tracks. A train going 50 miles per hour needs more than a mile to stop.
- Be sure all tracks are clear before crossing - there may be more than one set.
- Texas law requires motorists to yield the right of way to trains. It is also against the law to cross tracks if a train is visible or to drive around gates that have been lowered at a railroad crossing. If the gates are down and no train is coming, the road is closed.
The Texas Department of Transportation says in a collision with a train, you are 40 times more likely to be killed than in a collision with another car.
Operation Life Saver also has recommendations for train safety:
- Only cross at a designated public crossing area.
- Do not cross tracks immediately after a train passes as there may be a second.
- Obey all signs and warning lights/signals at a crossing.
- Trains run at all hours, so always use caution.
- Stay alert by avoiding distractions, such as using cell phones.
- If you stall on the tracks, get everyone out and run far from the tracks. Call law enforcement or locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided.