Matzie: House unanimously adopts ‘Rail Safety Week’ resolution

Seeks to raise awareness as pedestrian trespass casualties increase

HARRISBURG, Sept. 29 – The House today unanimously adopted state Rep. Rob Matzie’s resolution to raise awareness about the high toll of deaths and injuries from train collisions.

Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said he introduced H.B. 1002 – designating Sept. 21-27 as “Rail Safety Week” in Pennsylvania – to call attention to a preventable hazard that kills and injures too many motorists and pedestrians each year.

“Unfortunately, Pennsylvania again this year made the top 15 list of states with the greatest number of highway-rail grade crossing collisions and pedestrian trespassing casualties,” Matzie said. “Perhaps most disturbing, the commonwealth ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to pedestrian trespass deaths and injuries, with 29 deaths and 23 injuries in 2019. That’s an increase from the year before.

“People who are walking at night or distracted while on their cell phones may easily fail to appreciate the degree of danger near tracks. For example, pedestrians may not realize that trains overhang tracks by at least three feet in all directions, with loose straps from rail cars extending even further so even if pedestrians are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, they can still be hit.

“It’s also important to remember that it can take a mile or more for a train to stop, so that by the time a locomotive engineer sees someone on the tracks, it will likely be too late to stop.

“I’m encouraged that the House unanimously adopted my resolution today. There is no need for any pedestrian or motorist to die in a rail collision, and the more we can get the word out, the better our chances of eliminating these tragic, preventable incidents.”

Matzie said additional safety tips and statistics involving rail casualties in Pennsylvania and nationwide are available through the Operation Lifesaver website here.

Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner joined first responders in the United States and Canada for
“Operation Clear Track,” the largest rail-safety initiative in North America. More information about the initiative is available here.

In the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train about every three hours.