Truck and Rail Accidents Decline

For the third year in a row, train accidents across the country have declined. Preliminary data released by US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary,Mary E. Peters for 2007 indicate a 13.6% year over year reduction in train accidents. Leading the way to 406 fewer accidents were California down 46, Texas down 45 and New York down 30.

Some of the gain was explained by Peters as due to vigorous implementation of a May 2005 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) National Rail Safety Action Plan.

As the Secretary explains, the Plan focuses on the most frequent, highest-risk causes of train accidents; optimizes use of data to target federal inspection and enforcement resources; and accelerates research initiatives that hold promise to mitigate the greatest potential safety risks.

Federal Railroad Administrator, Joseph H. Boardman, noted that in 2007 the FRA added two new automated track inspection vehicles to its fleet enabling the agency to triple the number of track-miles inspected annually, announced approval of new Positive Train Control (PTC) technology for deployment in regular freight rail service, issued a proposed rule to encourage expanded use of safer Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) train braking systems, and undertook several wide-ranging grade crossing safety initiatives.

Most current data for truck safety comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and covers 2006. It shows that in three primary areas measured by the DOT regarding truck safety there were significant declines in the large truck involvement rate in fatal crashes, the fatality rate and in the fatal crash rate.

All o f these rates are calculated by measuring the involvement of trucks per 100 million miles traveled. The large truck involvement rate fell to 2.12 from 2005's 2.21. The fatal crash rate for large trucks was 1.93, the lowest since 2002 when it was 1.97. The fatality rate declined to 2.24 in 2006, compared to 2.34 in 2005.

Observing these statistics, American Trucking Associations president and CEO, Bill Graves, remarked, “These figures illustrate the effectiveness of the trucking industry’s continuous efforts to increase safety on the nation’s highways. The motor carrier commitment to safety and industry outreach efforts are playing major roles in improving highway safety for all drivers.”

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