Railroads stress safety after spike in deaths in 2013

OMAHA, Neb. - Railroads are launching a new campaign to highlight the dangers of being near train tracks.

The number of trespassing deaths grew 11 percent last year, to 476, and the number of deaths in accidents increased nearly 8 percent, to 250.

It's hard to pinpoint what's behind the increase, but Operation Lifesaver CEO Joyce Rose said she thinks it might be a reflection of how distracted Americans can be because of smartphones and other electronic devices.

The ads for the new "See Tracks? Think Train" campaign focus on how people and vehicles stand no chance against a train.

"Every day someone's risky behavior around railroad tracks gets them injured or killed," Rose said. "Our goal with this campaign is to make people think twice before doing something risky or unsafe. Ultimately, it's all about educating people and saving lives."

At least three local deaths in 2013 were attributed to the victims being struck by trains while crossing the tracks in 2013. Two were determined to be accidents; the third was ruled a suicide.

The public service campaign is backed by the Association of American Railroads trade group, major railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration.

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