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J Okla State Med Assoc. 2009 Aug;102(8):263-6.

Unintentional motor vehicle-train collisions--Oklahoma, 1995-2003.

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Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73117, USA.



Rates of persons injured in motor vehicle (MV)-train collisions in the state of Oklahoma (1.13/100,000 population) are more than 2 times the United States rate (0.51/100,000 population).


To better understand and describe unintentional MV-train collisions in Oklahoma, we collected information on MV-train collisions during 1995-2003 from the United States Federal Railroad Administration and from statewide medical examiner reports. Intersections were classified into train-activated gates, train-activated flashing lights, and passive signage (crossbucks or stop signs). For each type of intersection, MV-train collisions were calculated as the average annual number of collisions/1,000,000 vehicles/100,000 trains.


A total of 444 unintentional MV-train collisions occurred; 48% had at least one injury. The average annual intersection collision rate with passive signage (5.15) was eight and 37 times, respectively, the rate of train-activated lights (0.63) and train-activated gates (0.14). Of drivers involved in collisions at intersections with gates, 83% ignored the gate warning. Twenty-five percent of drivers were aged < 25 years, compared with 16% of registered drivers in Oklahoma (p = 0.0001); 74% of drivers were male, compared with 49% of registered drivers in Oklahoma (p < 0.0001). Of fatalities tested for the presence of alcohol, 22% were legally intoxicated.


Increasing the number of intersections with active warnings and instituting structural changes (i.e., gates that close across both lanes of traffic) would likely reduce the number of MV-train collisions in Oklahoma and throughout the U.S.

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