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Rail safety prime focus for Utah legislators after spat of driver fatalities

Posted On Tue, March 5, 2013

While auto insurance quotes, the rules of the road and driver's education provide motorists with a general understanding of what to expect when behind the wheel, a new bill that may pass the Utah legislature would require the state's motorists to know more about driving safety, particularly as it relates to railroad crossings.

First reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, a resolution recently passed through the state House of Representatives would require new drivers to have a better understanding of what they have to do before crossing a railroad bed.

State Sen. Karen Mayne, who was the primary sponsor of the legislation, indicated that the law is necessary because there have been a heightened number of automotive accidents around freight trains and commuter rails in the Beehive State. According to The Associated Press, in the past two years, there have been 13 fatalities and more than two dozen injuries involving a car that goes over a railroad crossing at an unsafe time.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, vehicle-train collisions have long been an issue in the U.S. In 1981, for example, there were nearly 9,500 vehicle-train accidents, leading to 730 fatalities and 3,300 injuries. Increased awareness and safety initiatives have helped reduce the number of these accident. In 2011, there were 2,000 collisions, and 271 fatalities - the lowest total in more than 20 years. Approximately 1,000 people sustained injuries in the aftermath of an automotive-train crash.

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