How Safe Are America’s Railways?

The terrible train crash that involved a New York commuter train and an SUV last week that killed six people has reignited concerns that the commuter rail system in New York and around the country is dangerous.

The short answer, according to experts, is yes. However, there have been six deaths and 126 injuries due to accidents on New York commuter trains in the last two years. And there were 43 total deaths on those New York lines from 2004-14. On another NY commuter line there were 84 deaths in the same period.

But across the US, railroad crossing deaths have dropped 38% in that same period. Almost 70% of rail deaths are due to trespassing on train tracks. And rail crossing crashes are 32% of all rail related deaths each year.

Overall, experts say that 94% of transportation deaths in the US are on roads and highways. While train crashes garner headlines, the fact is that trains overall are quite safe.

We are glad that overall train safety in the US is still good, even though accidents do occur. Still, it is very important for drivers to remember to never cross railroad crossings when a train is approaching and the gates are coming down. The fatal wreck in NY could have been avoided if the SUV driver had not tried to cross when she should not have.

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