The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ranked San Diego among the nation’s 10 most dangerous counties for fatal accidents between trains and pedestrians.
According to the agency’s latest findings, 325 pedestrians were killed nationwide while trespassing on railroad tracks in the first seven months of 2018.
Total annual trespassing-related pedestrian fatalities increased 18 percent over a five-year span, from 725 in 2012, to 855 in 2017. Those fatality counts do not include pedestrian suicides.
Los Angeles County leads the nation in accidental train-vs-pedestrian deaths, with 110 fatal trespassing accidents from 2013-17, according to the FRA.
Cook County, Illinois, which includes metro Chicago, is second, with 109 deaths.
San Diego County ties for ninth place with Contra Costa County on the accidental death list, with 44 fatalities from 2013-17.
Six of the 10 counties are in California.
The FRA sent “site review teams” to the counties with the most deaths, including San Diego. Those teams observed trespassing incidents and interviewed pedestrians who crossed or jogged near train tracks in dangerous or off-limits areas.
“Individuals were often making conscious decisions to trespass as a matter of convenience and generally reported that they knew they were illegally trespassing. In one instance, FRA personnel observed school children and a school official trespassing on a railroad’s right of way,” the report said.
FRA experts said preventing fatal trespassing accidents is a challenge.
The administration said education and outreach about the risks of trespassing will not, by themselves, change behavior.
The report suggested that local agencies and railroad companies should identify high-risk areas for pedestrian accidents and install more fencing and video detection systems.
The FRA also noted that “frequent and consistent enforcement of trespasser laws” could help deter dangerous and illegal pedestrian crossings.
The full list of counties with the most railroad trespasser casualties is provided below:
1. Los Angeles, California
2. Cook (Chicago), Illinois
3. San Bernardino, California
4. Harris (Houston), Texas
5. Broward, Florida
6. Palm Beach, Florida
7. Fresno, California (tied)
7. Riverside, California (tied)
9. Contra Costa, California (tied)
9. San Diego, California (tied)