For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Schilling
(614) 466 7750
COLUMBUS, OHIO (Nov. 21, 2013) – Ohio is a major crossroads for the railroad industry. Thousands of trains operate on nearly 5,300 miles of track and 5,800 public crossings, making Ohio the fifth leading state in terms of goods transported by rail. Being a leader in railroad traffic brings an even greater responsibility to ensure safety at highway-rail grade crossings.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), in conjunction with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, is responsible for ensuring the safety of motorists at highway-rail grade crossings in Ohio. The PUCO regularly inspects and evaluates railroad grade crossings and implements safety improvements at crossings across the state. The PUCO also approves funding for enhancing safety at highway-rail grade crossings.
However, despite significant gains in crossing safety in recent decades, more than half of the train-vehicle crashes in Ohio still occur at grade crossings that have active warning devices. To improve public awareness of this issue, the PUCO works in conjunction with other rail safety organizations to highlight the importance of rail-highway grade crossing safety.
Since the 1980’s the PUCO has worked to improve safety at Ohio’s public highway-rail grade crossings through education and outreach, crossing inspections, local funding opportunities and the installation of safety improvements at crossings across the state. Over this period of time, the annual number of train-vehicle crashes has decreased from more than 300 nearly two decades ago to 71 in 2012. Through October 2013, a total of 70 federal, state and locally funded safety upgrades have been ordered this year by the PUCO including the installation of lights and gates, supplemental assistance upgrades, circuitry upgrades and closings.
While the PUCO believes that active warning devices play an important role in rail crossing safety, there is much work to be done to educate motorists on how to safely travel across railroad crossings. The PUCO recommends these rail crossing safety tips:
For more information on rail crossing safety in Ohio, contact the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Ohioans can also call the toll-free Ohio Rail Hotline, at (866) 814-RAIL (7245), to obtain answers to all their rail questions.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.
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