Pennsylvania Ranked in Top 10 States with Most Train Accidents in 2016

Carrie – Make blog post” link to “What Are the Most Common Causes of Train Accidents?” blog post when published 

Multiple fatal train accidents have occurred during the past few years, the most recent being the Hoboken disaster that killed one woman and injured 114 others.  Several of these accidents took place in Pennsylvania, which leads one to wonder whether some states are safer than others for rail travel.  Philadelphia train accident lawyer Brent Wieand examines federal crash data to find out how Pennsylvania compares to other states when it comes to railroad accidents and train safety.

Crash Statistics Reveal PA Among Top 10 Most Dangerous States for Train Accidents

Certain states have more car accidents than others.  The same is true of train crashes.  Even though railroads are regulated by the federal government – specifically, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) – certain states consistently report high numbers of accidents.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is one of them.  Take a look at the top 10 states where train accidents were most common from 2013 to July 2016, based on FRA data:

  1. Texas – 763 accidents
  2. Illinois – 634
  3. California – 325
  4. Pennsylvania – 267
  5. Ohio – 263
  6. Indiana – 239
  7. Louisiana – 221
  8. Nebraska – 213
  9. Georgia – 190
  10. Kansas – 186

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Even when you narrow the list to focus only on accidents that occurred during the first half of 2016, Pennsylvania still makes it into the top 10, in fact barely changing its position:

  1. Texas – 125
  2. Illinois – 64
  3. California – 50
  4. Ohio – 43
  5. Indiana/Pennsylvania – 34
  6. Louisiana – 31
  7. Georgia – 30
  8. Missouri – 26
  9. Iowa/Washington – 25
  10. Minnesota – 24

What Factors Cause or Contribute to Derailments, Collisions, and Rail Disasters?

So why is this happening?  Though human error is the leading cause of accidents, as explained in a previous blog post, certain geographic locations have an elevated risk due to factors like harsh weather, the volume and frequency of train travel, and even the physical layout of the tracks themselves.

Take, for instance, the Northeast Corridor, which is owned and operated largely by Amtrak.  With stops at over 100 stations, the Northeast Corridor is a high-speed, high-volume route that passes through Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.  It’s also full of sharp twists and turns, notably a treacherous portion of track called Frankford Junction.  This was the site of last year’s Amtrak derailment disaster, which killed eight and injured more than 200 victims.  A prior crash occurred at Frankford Junction in 1943, killing 79 and injuring 117.

When you combine heavy travel, tracks that are difficult to navigate, and wear and tear from harsh winters, there are numerous opportunities for disaster to occur.  Compared to a slower, less popular route along a straighter track, the Northeast Corridor is rife with hazards.

On the other hand, other northeastern states like Connecticut and Massachusetts don’t have particularly high accident figures (46 and 56, respectively), while rural states far from the Northeast Corridor do.  Though location and track layout contribute to accidents – especially on tracks that have numerous grade crossings – much of the blame for preventable crashes rests with the railroad companies themselves.

Much like airlines, some railroad groups have substantially better safety records than others, regardless of whether they haul freight or transport passengers.  According to FRA data, Union Pacific has the highest number of accidents (1,785 accidents from 2013 through July 2016), followed by BNSF (1,404), CSX (813), Norfolk Southern Railway Company (723), and Amtrak (244).

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At its very core, the real root of the problem can probably be traced to a lack of adequate funding for transportation infrastructure.  (“The problem that you have — and you’ve had it since 1976 and even before — is that there’s never been an investment program that would bring the infrastructure up where it belongs on existing capacity,” Amtrak chief executive Joseph Boardman said in 2014.)  However, that doesn’t change or excuse the simple fact that Pennsylvania reports more train accidents than most other states in the nation.

Review Your Amtrak or SEPTA Injury Claim with a Philadelphia Railroad Accident Lawyer

If you or one of your family members was injured in an Amtrak accident, a SEPTA accident, or other type of train accident in Pennsylvania, you should talk to an experienced SEPTA injury lawyer about getting compensated.  Depending on how and why your injuries or the wrongful death of your loved one occurred, it may be possible to recover compensation for lost earnings, medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering, and other accident-related expenses, while also holding the company accountable for your loss.

To talk about whether you might have a personal injury claim or grounds for a lawsuit in a free and confidential legal consultation, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161 as soon as possible.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*

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