There are many trains in use today throughout the United States and the state of Florida. They include freight trains (transport goods, materials, cargo and chemicals), high speed trains (Amtrak), inter-city trains, commuter trains / regional trains (brings workers to and from work), rapid transit (metro or subway) and light rail (trolley or street cars).
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) states that approximately 3,000 train accidents occur each year in the United States with nearly 1,000 people dying as a result.
Railroad accidents are often caused by trains colliding with each other, vehicles or pedestrians, are a result of derailments, excessive speed by drivers, intoxication of drivers, distracted train operators, fatigued trained operators, inadequately trained train operators, warning signal failures, visual obstructions, mechanical failures, poor maintenance and inadequate security.
Railroad accidents can cause serious catastrophic damage to both people and property.
Some recent and well-known railroad accidents include:
* Four people were killed and more than 60 injured because a Metro-North Railroad express train flew off the rails in the Riverdale section of the Bronx as it raced around a 30 mph curve at approximately 82 mph. The train engineer said he nodded off (fell asleep) just before the accident. Some believe that railroad management and federal overseers apparently have become too complacent, when it came to retrofitting existing trains with modern overspeed protection technology.
* A Spanish train driver was talking on his work cellphone and traveling at nearly twice the recommended speed when the train derailed on a tight curve in July killing 79 people and injuring 66 others. This elevated growing concerns among regulators worldwide about the deadly consequences of phone use while operating vehicles, trains and planes.
* A train crash and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec wiped out a swath of the town 130 miles east of Montreal. The runaway train killed more 20 people, 30 others were missing and countless others were injured. More than 2000 people were forced to flee their homes as a result of the 73-car train derailment. The engineer had been suspended and faced a criminal investigation. The Canada’s Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that “the braking force applied was insufficient to hold” an unmanned train and caused the deadly accident.
While train accidents, like those above, are rare, they do still happen. It is important to note that some of the most common railroad accidents happen at railroad crossings that we use every day. We encourage you to be vigilant around railroad crossings and adhere to railroad crossing laws.