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Pedestrian Accident Rates Highest in Country on California Tracks

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Pedestrian accidents happen on a daily basis in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, these accidents often result in serious injuries or death. This is especially true for pedestrian accidents on San Francisco's railroad tracks.

A recent investigation found there is no central agency keeping record of accidents on the Bay Area's railways, although individual railroads keep track of accidents. There is, however, a federal agency that keeps a database of train accidents and deaths. But, this database doesn't include local public commuter lines used by San Francisco residents on a daily basis.

The investigation showed that, since 2004, over 229 people have died on the Bay Area's railroad tracks. The data recovered shows the most accidents have occurred in the Capitol Corridor. Most of the accidents classify the pedestrians as trespassers. According to data from the federal agency which counts accidents on interstate railroad lines, 896 people died in California during the same eight year period. Around 14 percent of those accidents happened on the Bay Area's interstate tracks.

In 2012, there have been more trespasser deaths on local tracks in California than in any other state. The statistic can be explained by the relationship between the population and the train tracks. People have also been observed taking extreme risks near tracks, such as drivers trying to outrun trains.

It has been suggested that additional fencing and barriers may deter people from trying to beat the trains. This would prevent people from violating train signals and gates. Capital Corridor has spent $1.2 million in 2012 to add fencing because of the high number of fatalities on its tracks. Trespassing has been the area's top problem and priority.

Despite these efforts, high numbers of pedestrian accidents on Bay Area train tracks continue to be reported. For pedestrians injured at the hands of negligent parties, compensation may be available for their injuries.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "Investigating deaths on Bay Area tracks," Elyce Kirchner, Julie Putnam & Felipe Escamillia, Oct. 17, 2012