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Cook, Dupage and Lake County: 'HotSpots' for Fatal Train Accidents

Casey Woodruff

Surprisingly, the city of Chicago was the scene of relatively few fatal train crossing accidents between 2004 and 2010. Based on research conducted by Northwestern University, of the six counties making up Chicagoland, cities in Cook County, Dupage County and Lake County saw more train crossing deaths than any others.

Barrington, Franklin Park, La Grange, Lake Forest and Villa Park saw the highest number of fatal train crossing accidents. According to the Northwestern study, a fatal pedestrian-railroad accident occurs once every 10 days, on average. Two occurred just over a week ago, in Naperville and Vernon Hills. Both involved Metra train collisions.

Preventing Illinois Railroad Crossing Accidents

Railroad crossings and the railroad tracks are dangerous for Chicago-area pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Illinois railroad crossing accident attorneys have seen individuals suffer serious injury, such as head or spinal cord injury, and family members forced to deal with the loss of a loved one after a railroad crossing accident.

Over the last six years, 43 accidental deaths took place at railroad crossings. Sixteen deaths occurred at a train station. Another 81 people were killed on railroad tracks other than crossings or stations.

The most dangerous railroad pathways for pedestrians are the Union Pacific West Line, the UP Northwest Line and the Milwaukee District North Line, according to the Northwestern study. Union Pacific and Metra installed signs, added pedestrian walkways and fencing to alert riders to multiple trains and direct people to safer routes to cross tracks. But, the layout of many existing rail stations poses a threat to train passengers as the station design requires people to walk across tracks to enter or exit the station.

Individuals killed at railroad crossings, stations or on the tracks tended to be adults rather than children. There were 120 additional railroad-pedestrian fatalities between 2004 and 2010 that were attributed to suicide.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Suburban train crossings prove most deadly,” 19 September 2011

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