The News Tribune has a special report about train safety campaigns, noting that at least 58 people have died on railroad tracks in Pierce during and South King County since 1998. Train safety is a serious issue, when I took Caltrain everyday to work from San Francisco down to San Jose, it seemed that about once a month someone was killed on the Caltrain tracks. The deaths, whether they were suicides or not must have had huge effects on the families of those killed.

I wish there would be similar campaigns for both cars and bicycles. The article mentions that someone is hit by a train every 115 minutes somewhere in the US, though I couldn’t find how many of those people are killed. Highway fatalities are 94% of transportation deaths, 42,116 people were killed in car accidents in 2006 and car-related deaths are the number one killer of people under 45 in our region. Those numbers are scary, and bicycling is barely safer than driving.

A lot can be done to make sure that all modes of transportation are safe, because currently, they really are not as safe as they ought to be. This campaign to make trains safer is awesome, and I wish campaigns to make the other modes of transportation safer would also make the news.

10 Replies to “Train Safety Effort”

  1. I compiled some data from Operation Lifesaver’s website ( They are cited in the article as a training resource. I copied their data into an Excel table and graphed it.

    As much as people are concerned about safety, the nationwide trend is that train collisions and fatalities are going DOWN. They imply that nationwide, it is going up.

    There is a “Did You Know?” on the website which I don’t believe:

    A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.

    Another observation: Washington is number 25 on the 2007 list of Crossing Collisions & Casualties, Trespass Casualties. Compared to #1 Texas (home of BNSF), we’re REALLY good.

    Sorry for the ramblings. I’m in the 10th hour of a 12-hour graveyard shift.

    1. I think this

      A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.

      first assumes that you are in the accident.

      What it should say is

      “A motorist involved in a train accident is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash than a motorist involved in a collision with another motor vehicle.”

      It’s not true as it’s written.

  2. That 20x more likely to die statistic makes sense to me. If you are comparing people in car/train accidents with people in car/car accidents,it makes sense that the people in the train accident are more likely to die. The way this is stated here is misleading though.

      1. Little known fact: you’re 20,000 times more likely to die in a collision with a live shark transport vehicle than a collision with a giant waterlogged marshmallow. ;-)

        Also: 43% of statistics are made up on the spot.

  3. Comparing rail freight to road freight: rail freight transport incurs about 13% of the fatalities that trucks do per trillion ton-miles.

  4. And comparing injury rates between modes: Rail freight transport incurs about 8% of the injuries that trucks do per trillion ton-miles

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