South Carolina County Works to Reduce Railroad Fatalities

August 13, 2014

Officials in Spartanburg County, S.C., are trying to figure out how to reduce fatalities and injuries on train tracks.

Spartanburg County has had eight people killed or injured while trespassing on train tracks since 2011 and 16 vehicle crashes. The data from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis shows the county leads the state in both categories, according to the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg.pedestrian railroad deaths

South Carolina as a whole also saw a sharp increase in 2013 with 12 people killed while trespassing on train tracks. Juts four people were killed on the tracks in 2012.

Railroad companies are trying to help. Norfolk Southern put up billboards near high traffic railroad crossings in Spartanburg with its “Train Your Brain” safety message.

National rail safety organization Operation Lifesaver is also stepping in to make more people aware of the danger of trains.

“Part of our job is to educate people that it’s against the law to be on the tracks, but more importantly is it’s dangerous,” said Janice Cowen, the South Carolina coordinator for the organization.

Anyone caught walking along train tracks can be charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Spartanburg Police Capt. Art Littlejohn said.

“We always continue to try to educate people about how dangerous trains are. A lot of people have crossed trains for years because they live in a community where trains are and for whatever reason they don’t think they’ll get hurt,” Littlejohn said. “All it takes is a slip.”

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