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Train-pedestrian accidents are on the rise in Michigan

Many people have heard by now that late last month a 16-year-old was struck and killed by a train in Charlotte, Michigan. Authorities believe that the boy was walking home from school when he was struck. The teen was the third pedestrian to die after being struck by a train while walking or resting on or near the tracks this year.

Days after the 16-year-old was killed, a 52-year-old man from Holland, Michigan, was struck and killed in another fatal accident while he was lying near the train tracks.

These tragedies are reminders that Michigan has become one of the deadliest states when it comes to train-pedestrian accidents. The number of fatal train-pedestrian accidents has continued to rise in the state over the past 30 years.

Last year, 10 people who were on Michigan's train tracks illegally were killed. The Federal Railroad Administration reports that this is the 15th highest number of such fatalities in the country. Nationwide, in 2012, 437 people were killed while on tracks illegally.

It has been suggested that these types of fatal accidents might be becoming more and more common because many young people listen to music while walking, and thus they cannot hear trains coming.

Few details, however, have been released about these recent pedestrian-train accident deaths.

It is important for people to stay off of train tracks. In addition to the critical safety risks, in Michigan there is a $250 fine for trespassing on tracks. However, local governments and train companies also share the responsibility of keeping people safe near the tracks. When people are hurt or injured in pedestrian-train accidents or car-train accidents, it is important that an investigation takes place to learn whether the negligence of local authorities, train companies or any other parties led to the accident.

In many cases, these accidents can be prevented when the proper safety systems are in place, such as gates and warning lights, for example.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer, "Charlotte death reflects rise in Michigan train-pedestrian accidents," April 27, 2013

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