North American railroad fatalities are less than ever before. This is a bit surprising as trains are relied on more and more for transit of cargo, and at intersections between tracks and roads, there are more vehicles, passengers, and annual passenger miles every passing year.
The statistical decline in fatalities is due to a number of reasons. For starters, many local governments are taking railroad crossings far more seriously, and upgrading the warning signs and engineering of intersections.
Driver education and general awareness campaigns also make operators of passenger vehicles a lot more aware of how to handle crossing railroad crossings, with far fewer cars taking risks or stopping on tracks.
Technology is probably the biggest factor. Oncoming trains can sometimes have video of upcoming intersections miles in advance so they can adjust their speed. Also, drivers with smartphones or vehicles with GPS know when tracks are coming up and can get warnings about proceeding carefully.
North American railroads are relied on more and more for cargo transportation to ease interstate congestion and are often touted as mass transit possibilities for passengers. Fortunately, with advances in engineering and technology, there are fewer railroad fatalities with every passing year.
I have an aunt who refuses to fly anywhere. She is afraid that there will be a huge plane crash and everyone will not survive (Good thing there is http://vitalsparkinsurance.com). This may have been a valid concern in the 1980s when planes crashed more often and there were hijackers all over the place, but this does not seem to be a problem at this point in time. As far as I can tell, taking a train is far more dangerous. I cannot tell you the last time that I heard about a plane crashing in the United States, but trains derail at least several times a year.
Besides derailing, there are people who are killed while trying to cross the tracks. This applies to those who are driving as well as those who are on foot. I am not sure what makes people believe that they are invincible when a train is careening toward them on the tracks. I would never work for a railroad because the idea of killing someone because the train jumped the track or some unwise person decided they were bionic is far too horrifying for a person like me to comprehend. I would end up losing my mind.
I’ve been in a string of random curiosities over the past couple of days. I hit a period like this once every couple of months, where I think of a random thing and then spend too much time on it for hours or days at a time.
Today has been all about railroads. I started by thinking about model trains, and how I would build my own exhibit. Then I thought about how those trains would probably crash. Finally, I was stuck on the likelihood of dying on an actual train. Does that even happen anymore, and in North America
of all places?
I had to know for sure, so I spent some time looking up all of the important facts and figures, and life insurance too of course (Thanks to http://leaveassurance.com). The good news is that serious train accidents aren’t happening all that often anymore. The chance of being in one is similar to that of being bitten by a shark. The bad news? The crashes these days are much more serious. Trains are travelling faster than ever before, and the likelihood for a serious derailment increases exponentially every 10MPH you go.
I’ve probably talked myself out of riding trains for a while, just in case.