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Collisions at public railroad crossings in Minnesota rose last year

Be careful at crossings, people.

The number of collisions at public railroad crossings in Minnesota rose last year, federal authorities say.

There were 34 collisions at public crossings, a rise from 29 in 2016, though the number of collisions at private crossings fell from 8 to 5, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The 17 percent rise in collisions at public crossings was way more than the 3 percent average, though is down on the 51 recorded in 2014.

Total train accidents excluding highway railroad crossings hit 44 last year, though this was only one more than there was in 2016.

Speaking to KSTP, Minnesota Operation Lifesaver executive director Sheryl Cummings said there's no new reason for this rise.

"It's still impatience, it's still disregard for traffic control devices, it's still distractions."

Operation Lifesaver on its website notes that trains always have the right of way over any road user – including emergency vehicles.

Drivers are advise to always expect a train at a public crossing, given how freight trains don't travel at fixed times and passenger train schedules can vary.

"No texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation," it adds.

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