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Why Are Train Accidents Becoming More Common?

News of catastrophic train accidents seems to be heard more frequently than in past years or decades.  While the studies and statistics can tell us why these accidents happen, it does not make them any less devastating.

Train Accident Statistics

From 2012-2016, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported a total of 50,085 railroad transportation accidents. That includes both railroad and highway-rail grade crossing accidents.

As a result of those accidents, 3,760 people were killed: 2,235 due to trespassing, 1,221 in highway-rail grade cross accident, 44 in train accidents, and 170 for other reasons.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the majority of train accident fatalities occurs when trespassers are hit by trains.

Reasons for Accidents         

While new technologies, like improved braking systems and positive train control, have the potential to decrease train accidents, these systems are expensive. Train companies do not always feel as though new systems are a wise investment. In addition to the lack of technological upgrades, here are some other main reasons train accidents occur:

  • Human Error. Human error is the leading cause of train accidents in the United States. The term “human error” includes excessive speeding, failure to break, and engineer distraction. In December 2017, in DuPont, Washington, an Amtrak train derailed traveling around a curve while going 80mph in a 30mph zone. Three people were killed.
  • Track and Roadbed Malfunctions. There are over 140,000 miles of railroad tracks throughout the United States. The condition and maintenance of these tracks and rails place a significant part in the number of accidents. In February 2018, an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers struck a garbage truck near Crozet, Virginia. One man was killed, others were injured. There are questions as to whether or not the signal system was functioning properly at that time.
  • Mechanical Failure. Mechanical failure also plays a large role in train accidents. Approximately ten percent of all train accidents are caused by mechanical failure.

Other unfortunate reasons for train derailments and collisions are:

  • Collision with another train
  • Collision with a car, bus, or truck trying to cross train tracks
  • Collapsed bridges
  • Pedestrians on the tracks
  • Accidents at unmarked railroad crossings
  • Faulty train crossings
  • Suicide attempts


With the number of unnecessary deaths related to train accidents, there is a need for improved laws and regulation to protect passengers and pedestrians. Train companies, train engineers, and travelers can all take measures to prevent train accidents.

Train companies and engineers need to be vigilant when it comes to train and railroad maintenance. Engineers should be focused at all times and abide by all laws and regulations. Drivers should never assume a track is not is use or stop their vehicle on a track and should always look both ways before crossing a train track.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a train collision, you need a law firm that understands the federal laws and regulations for the railroad industry. Here at Solomon Law Group, our South Carolina train accident lawyers are dedicated to holding the train companies accountable for their negligence. You may be owed compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, damages, or financial loss. Reach out to us today to get the justice you deserve.

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