Railroad Accident Archives

Railroad Accident Types and Factors

Posted on November 9, 2013

Railroad Accidents

According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, there are over 130,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States. The trains that run along these tracks crisscross the American landscape, transporting heavy freight, agricultural products, and people from one location to another. The rail lines they follow often cross one another, cross over and under roads and bridges, and wind through tunnels. These conditions frequently place both passengers and freight trains in close proximity with pedestrians, vehicles, and buildings, and unfortunately accidents can happen.

The most common types of accidents that occur include highway-rail accidents (e.g., train-car, train-pedestrian), train derailment, train-train collisions, and single-train accidents. Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis reveal that a combined total of over 11,300 accidents occurred on America’s railways in 2011. Single train accidents accounted for 17.7% of all reported accidents in 2011. Only 5.27% of these involved passenger trains, and only 1% involved the release of hazardous material. Deaths, injuries, and occupational illnesses to railroad employees accounted for 65% of all accidents reported in 2011. With specific regard to the passenger train industry, only six deaths were reported in 2011; however, a total of 1,512 individuals were injured in railroad accidents.

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