In February 2013, a young man from Park Hill, Kentucky was killed when his vehicle struck a train. According to the police, the car hit the Norfolk Southern train and caught fire after the impact. The report also indicated that a witness tried to help the victim, but it was too late. There were no crossing gates at the intersection where the incident occurred. The lights were also checked to see if they were operational.
Train and vehicle accidents
A train accident involving a person or vehicle happens about every 115 minutes, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Almost half of all collisions at railroad crossings occur when automatic warning devices are flashing lights and/or gates are present. The NTSB believes people make the mistake of believing they can beat a train across the tracks. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are about 5,800 auto-train crashes each year. These accidents cause an average of 600 deaths and injure about 2,300. More than 50% of all the fatal accidents happen at crossings with passive or inadequate safety devices.
Here are some other train accident statistics:
- Every 90 minutes there is a train collision or derailment.
- A train carrying hazardous cargo derails approximately every two weeks in the United States.
- Railroads are, for the most part, self-regulated and do come under the close watch of the federal government.
- Today, rail companies rely on technology that was developed over 70 years ago. There has been very little research and improvements to update these dated safety measures.
- Local governments often have no voice over the train traffic in their area which can result in delays for local emergency responders.
- According to the DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration, about 80% of railroad crossings do not have adequate warning devices.
- While vehicle-train collisions have decreased in the past few years, pedestrian involved in train collisions have increased.
You have to be careful when crossing train tracks. While train tracks with safety equipment, like arms and lights, help warn you of an oncoming train, they can malfunction. We have probably all seen lights at a train track flashing, but there was no train in sight. Please be cautious when approaching and crossing train tracks. Make sure to turn down the radio so you can hear and always look for a train before your cross. Never try to out run a train!