Newly released data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) confirms that recent years remain the safest ever for U.S. railroads. Through employee commitment to safety and investments in maintenance and new technologies, the industry has maintained the strong safety record of recent years, with the train accident rate down 28 percent in the last decade and last year marking the lowest rate of track-caused and human factor-caused accidents ever.
Notable statistics, calculated per million train miles using March 2018 FRA data, include:
- Train accident rate is down 44 percent since 2000.
- Equipment-caused accident rate is down 38 percent since 2000.
- Track-caused accident rate is down 55 percent since 2000.
- Human factor-caused accident rate is down 45 percent since 2000.
- Derailment rate is down 42 percent since 2000.
“Every day, the men and women of the rail industry are making a safe network safer,” said Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger. “Investments in technology and employee training to advance safety in recent years have yielded significant gains that make railroading in America safer and more reliable than ever.”
The industry remains concerned about driver and pedestrian safety as this most recent data shows a 22 percent increase in trespassing deaths compared to 2016. Every three hours someone is hit by a train in the United States, and these accidents are almost entirely preventable. Every year, railroads spend millions to maintain and improve grade crossings as well as work directly with communities and law enforcement to educate the public about safe behavior near tracks.
“While the safety of rail operations remains strong, our job is not done,” said Hamberger. “The rise in pedestrian deaths in 2017 is a stark reminder of the perils of risky behavior around railroad tracks. Don’t tempt fate; remember when you see tracks, think train.”
Railroads also participate with Operation Lifesaver, whose education initiatives play a critical role across the U.S. in reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.