In 2013, 231 fatalities occurred at railroad crossings in the United States, down from over 1,000 in 1978, demonstrating that significant gains in safety outcomes are achievable over time. Summarizing a Washington Post article, the Rural Blog reports that closing unnecessary rail crossings, adding gates and lights to more crossings, using three headlights on locomotives instead of just one, and increasing public awareness of the potential danger of crossing rail tracks are some of the policy initiatives that likely led to a decrease in deaths.
Overall, 32,719 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2013 (the most recent year for which national data are available). This is a reduction from near 50,000 fatalities in 1978 (see the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Research Note on 2013 crashes in PDF for more info).
Across the U.S., agencies and private businesses are joining together in a national movement called Toward Zero Deaths to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, traffic fatalities. Learn more about “Toward Zero Deaths: A National Strategy on Highway Safety.”