Approximately every 115 minutes, someone or something is struck by a train; almost 50 % of all collisions happen at railroad crossings when the automatic warning lights and automatic warning gates are working correctly. The big problem is that people think that even if their car gets stuck on the tracks, the train will be able to stop. In reality, a 150-car train going at fifty miles per hour will need at least a mile to stop.
The fact of the matter is that a car weighs only about 3000 pounds and it must come up against a several hundred ton train. The car almost always loses. These types of accidents cause about 600 deaths per year and injure about 2300 people per year in the US. About 75 percent of automobile/train crashes involve the train hitting the car in the daytime. At night, half of the collisions happen when the car does not see the train at a poorly lit intersection and strikes the train.
Things that can happen at a train accident is a train derailment, a train-train collision, a train-pedestrian collision and a train-car collision. There can also be damage to property. About every two weeks a train derailment causes a chemical spill, some of which are of a severity that they endanger neighboring residents. About a thousand people die each year in train accidents. The number of train accidents has been going up since 1997.
Other statistics include the fact that every 90 minutes, a train derailment or collision does occur. A train which is carrying some kind of hazardous cargo derails once every two weeks in the US. Railroads are regulated internally with little involvement of US laws. The railroads of today are run on technology that was devised 70 years ago. New safety measures and technology haven’t been devised since then. Local governments really have no say with regard to train safety. Because of this, the DOT indicates that about 80 percent of railroad crossings have no warning devices. Local governments have no way of getting their first responders easily to these scenes. The number of pedestrians killed by trains has gone up over the years.
In other statistics, it was shown that in 1989, about 1200 fatal train accidents occurred involving both trains and pedestrians. Of the victims, twenty of the 23 studied were male which was 87 percent male. The average age was 31 years and sixteen of the fatalities or 70 percent involved the pedestrian drinking alcohol. The average injury severity score was 21.4. Eight patients suffered from a traumatic amputation while they were pedestrians in a train and pedestrian accident. Two of the fatalities were actually railroad workers while the other nine were trespassers onto railway property. About 61 percent of the accidents happened between 11 pm and 7 am. Three patients died. There was no significant difference between those who used alcohol and those who suffered an amputation.
It was discovered in this study that non-railroad employed pedestrians who got struck by a train are more likely to sustain an amputation than a railroad worker.