Countermeasures to Mitigate Intentional Deaths on Railroad Rights-of-Way: Lessons Learned and Next Steps
Trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related fatalities in the United States. A large proportion of these trespasser fatalities are from intentional acts (i.e., suicides). With a lack of systematic research and evaluation of the countermeasures that are currently in place as well as those that have been proposed, it is difficult for railroad carriers and communities that seek to select appropriate countermeasures that are likely to be effective at mitigating suicides. This report discusses the current information available on trespasser fatalities and the implementation of countermeasures in use internationally to prevent suicides on the railroad right-of-way. The paper presents a discussion of each countermeasure according to various intervention points along the path to complete suicide on the railroad right-of-way. These intervention points include: preventing individuals from reaching a suicidal state, making the railroad environment appear to be a less viable means for attempting suicide, deterring access to the right-of-way, avoiding collisions with trespassers and pedestrians, reducing the lethality of a train-person collision, and improving the quality of data and reporting standards. Each of these intervention points provides an opportunity for a countermeasure to potentially divert the individual from the path towards a suicidal act.