Houston Area Has the Highest Railroad-Crossing Accident Rate

By John Fabry

According to the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Association (TRRIA), 40 railroads operate on approximately 15,000 miles of railroad track in Texas. That is the highest number of railroad track miles of any state in the country. With such a high number of track miles, it’s no surprise that Texas also has the most railroad crossings — 15,053 according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Tragically, more train-crossing accidents and incidents also occur in Texas than in any other state.

For the 10-year period from 1998 through 2007, 12,271 rail accidents and incidents occurred in Texas, according to the TRRIA. These accidents and incidents resulted in 853 deaths and 7,203 injuries. Keep in mind that these statistics represent only events actually reported to the FRA, and are only for deaths and injuries in Texas. If a collision was not reported to the FRA, it is not included in the statistics. And nationwide accident totals are much higher.

The TRRIA is comprised of municipal, county and state elected officials and members of other organizations interested in improving transportation in Texas. The Association’s report details which counties had the most train-crossing collisions and deaths during the 10-year period studied. The Association report, entitled “Dangerous Dozen: Rail Safety in Texas,” ranks Texas counties in the following order of risk:

  1. Harris County: 1,376 accidents and incidents; 90 deaths; 1,145 injuries
  2. Tarrant County: 799 accidents and incidents; 39 deaths; 710 injuries
  3. Bexar County: 493 accidents and incidents; 51 deaths; 519 injuries
  4. Dallas County: 356 accidents and incidents; 38 deaths; 225 injuries
  5. Webb County: 331 accidents and incidents; 17 deaths; 282 injuries
  6. El Paso County: 282 accidents and incidents; 34 deaths; 231 injuries
  7. Jefferson County: 222 accidents and incidents; 8 deaths; 154 injuries
  8. Cameron County: 144 accidents and incidents; 7 deaths; 124 injuries
  9. Brazoria County: 143 accidents and incidents; 8 deaths; 112 injuries
  10. Potter County: 123 accidents and incidents; 9 deaths; 111 injuries
  11. Fort Bend County: 121 accidents and incidents; 15 deaths; 77 injuries
  12. Bell County: 116 accidents and incidents; 16 deaths; 97 injuries

As you can see, railroad crossings are dangerous places. Freight railroads do not keep a regular schedule; you should assume a train could be coming down the tracks at any time. Please be careful at all railroad crossings, and don’t drive around railroad gates when they are down.

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