House unanimously approves Matzie resolution declaring ‘Rail Safety Week’

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – A resolution designating the week of Sept. 23-29 as “Rail Safety Week” in Pennsylvania was unanimously adopted today, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced.

“It’s a sobering fact that a U.S. motorist or pedestrian is struck by a train about once every three hours,” Matzie said. “Not only that, Pennsylvania makes the ‘top 15 states list’ in two categories – annual number of highway-rail crossing collisions and annual number of pedestrian trespassing casualties. The best way we can reverse the trend is by continuing to raise public awareness about the need for vigilance at crossings and the deadly dangers of trespassing near tracks.”

With regard to train-vehicle collisions, Matzie noted that although annual highway-rail collisions and casualties nationwide have dropped sharply since 1981, which saw nearly 10,000 such incidents, the number has leveled off over the past decade, remaining in the vicinity of 2,000.

“That’s still far too many incidents,” Matzie said. “No number is acceptable when you consider that a motorist struck by a train is 20 times more likely to die in a crash than a motorist struck by another vehicle.”

Matzie added that trespassing by pedestrians poses an especially deadly problem, with deaths and injuries topping 1,000 nationally in 2016.

“People may not realize that it can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who sees someone suddenly appear on the tracks will not likely be able to stop in time,” Matzie said. “As technology continues building faster and quieter trains, we have to continue spreading the word about rail safety.”

Matzie noted that Rail Safety Week in Pennsylvania is being held in conjunction with “U.S. Rail Safety Week,” a national campaign that shares the same public awareness goal.