CHICAGO (CBS) — A spike in the number of people killed at Illinois railroad crossings last year has safety experts worried.

Operation Lifesaver is trying to get out the message: you need to pay attention at train crossings.

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Last year, 21 people in Illinois died in collisions with trains, a surge of more than 61 percent, and a reversal of a decades-long downward trend.

Operation Lifesaver president Joyce Rose said a couple factors account for the increase.

“Our economy has been improving, and there’s more rail traffic. As a society, we’re probably more distracted now, with more electronic devices,” she said.

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Illinois, a leading transportation hub, ranked 2nd in the nation for collisions at railroad crossings last year.

In each case those who died or were injured were trespassing on the tracks, according to Federal Railroad Administration acting administrator Sarah Feinberg.

“We’ve got someone who is probably trying to beat the train. Maybe they’re a little bit too close to the crossing. Maybe they’re a little bit distracted or disoriented; don’t realize the train is coming,” she said.

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Nationwide, 270 people died at railroad grade crossings last year, up more than 8 percent from 2013.