The term “runaway train” gets used so often to describe situations people have lost control over that the actual pain, suffering, injuries and death an actual runaway can cause goes unrecognized. The tragic reality occurred March 24, 2010 in Oslo, Norway, when cars broke free from a freight train, rolled downhill and out of control for nearly three miles and slammed into a dump truck and terminal building before crashing into the harbor of an industrial rail yard.

Three rail workers inside and around the terminal lost their lives, according to an Associated Press report. Another three yard employees suffered injuries.

Train operators and government officials could not immediately identify the cause of the train wreck. Runaway train accidents and derailments in the United States have occurred because of brake failure, debris or other vehicles on the tracks, damaged tracks and errors by engineers and other train crew members.

Whatever the cause of the train accident in Norway last week, the message is clear: When trains or train cars run out of control, people not even on the train often get hurt and killed. I hope that when the reason for the accident is found, rail operators in Virginia (VA), West Virginia (WV), North Carolina (NC) and Washington, D.C., such as Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, CSX and WMATA (DC Metro) learn lessons from the tragedy and work to prevent a similar incident involving a runaway train.