Weeds and Railroads

Railroads must constantly work to keep their crossings at road intersections safe. A plant scientist at the University of Missouri is helping them control weeds so drivers can better see oncoming trains and avoid collisions.

Reid Smeda, professor of plant sciences at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, has been working with railroad transportation companies and their affiliates for more than a decade to devise strategies to combat vision-obstructing weeds. He is one of only a handful of plant scientists devoted to this area of public safety.

And the stakes are high. From 2011 to June of this year there were 7,273 collisions between highway vehicles and trains at 209,308 public and private crossings, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. From June 2013 to June 2014 the number of accidents has increased more than 10 percent over the same period from 2012 to 2013.

The majority of these accidents — 3,349 cases — involved automobiles. About 250 people each year die in these accidents with around a thousand being injured.


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About this Story

Campus: UMC
Key words: Agriculture, MU Campus, UM System,
County: Boone