The Highway Patrol says public awareness programs on rail safety are saving lives, but people are still taking unnecessary risks.

HP and UP spike award

Union Pacific presents the Highway Patrol with a Safety Spike Award for bringing rail fatalities down in 2013.

Union Pacific and the Highway Patrol have noted a decrease in fatalities on railroad tracks this year. Co. Ron Replogle with the Highway Patrol says fewer people are trying to beat the train at rail crossings, and not as many people are struck while walking on the tracks. Still, he says, the problem persists. He says he’s ridden on cargo trains to observe motorist and pedestrian behavior, and says new patrol recruits do the same as part of their training.

About 500 people are killed while walking on the railroad tracks throughout the U.S. each year.

Fatalities at public crossings in Missouri:

In 2013 – 1

In 2012 – 7

Pedestrian fatalities in Missouri (walking on tracks):

In 2013 – 6

In 2012 – 10

Visit Operation Life Saver for more information.