Key Statistics on Railroad Accidents

Railroad accidents silently plague the United States, striking more often than we dare to admit, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. Prepare yourself to be surprised by the sheer amount of trainwrecks in our country.  

1. In 2021, there were 893 recorded railroad deaths, indicating a 20% rise from the revised total of 744 in 2020 and marking the highest number since 2007.

2. The number of nonfatal injuries increased by 4%, going from a revised total of 5,544 in 2020 to 5,781.

3. Based on FRA statistics, there were 2,194 collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in 2022.

4. According to preliminary FRA statistics, there were 647 trespass-related fatalities and 550 trespass injuries across the U.S. in 2022. In the states mentioned, there were approximately 84% of all 2022 trespass casualties.

5. Over the past decade, the U.S. experienced an average of more than 30 rail incidents per day.

6. In 2022, there were over 1,000 recorded train derailments in the United States.

7. Approximately 60% of rail accidents occur in rail yards, with more than half of them being attributed to human factors or errors.

8. Approximately 10 train incidents nationwide last year involved the release of hazardous materials. In the past decade, there were 20 peak releases of hazardous materials in both 2018 and 2020.

9. Ninety-four percent of grade crossing accidents are caused by driver behavior that is considered risky.

10. Train collisions occur on average every 115 minutes in America and often lead to fatalities.

1.

In 2021, the number of railroad deaths was 893, showing a 20% increase from the revised total of 744 in 2020 and reaching the highest level since 2007.

In 2021, 893 people lost their lives due to railway accidents, according to the latest figures from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This is a 20% increase from the revised total of 744 in 2020 and is the highest number of deaths since 2007. [1]

The majority of these fatalities occurred when individuals were trespassing on railroad tracks and were struck by trains.

Railroad Death Statistics
2.

The number of nonfatal injuries also increased by 4% from the revised total of 5,544 in 2020 to 5,781 in 2021.

The number of nonfatal injuries associated with railroad accidents also increased in 2021. According to the FRA, the total for 2020 was revised from 5,544 to 5,781, showing an increase of 4%. Most of these injuries occurred when people were trespassing on the tracks or struck by moving trains. [1]
3.

According to statistics from FRA, there were 2,195 collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in 2022.

Railroad crossing accidents are a tragic reality in the United States. Every year, hundreds of people are killed and injured on railroad tracks while attempting to cross at designated highway-rail grade crossings.

According to statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there were 2,195 collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in 2020. Of those incidents, 274 fatalities and 810 injuries were reported nationwide. [2]

railroad crossing
4.

Based on preliminary FRA statistics, there were 647 trespass-related fatalities and 550 trespass injuries reported in the United States in 2022.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently released preliminary statistics on railroad accidents and trespassing incidents in the United States for 2022. Based on this data, there were a total of 647 fatalities and 550 injuries related to trespassing on railroad tracks across the nation.

The states with the most trespass-related casualties were California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Indiana, Georgia, and Washington, which accounted for 84% of all 2022 trespass casualties. [3]

5.

During the past decade, there was an average of over 30 rail incidents per day in the U.S.

Railroads are an important part of the transportation infrastructure in the United States. However, they are also susceptible to accidents, with an average of over 30 incidents per day in the past decade. These incidents can vary in severity, from minor collisions to catastrophic disasters that cause loss of life and damage to property.

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were over 100,000 rail incidents recorded between 2013 and 2022, resulting in nearly 8,000 fatalities and 78,000 injuries. [4]

6.

In 2022, there were over 1,000 train derailments recorded in the United States.

According to data from the Federal Railroad Administration, there were at least 1,164 train derailments across the country last year. Based on the data, the country is experiencing an average of approximately three derailments per day. [5]

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) reports that train derailments occur for various reasons, such as mechanical failures, track defects, and human error. The most common cause is attributed to human factors, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all incidents. Other primary causes include equipment failures, track geometry defects, and speed-related issues.

The FRA data also shows that the majority of these incidents occur in rural areas, with the majority of them occurring on freight lines.

Train Derailments
7.

Approximately 60% of rail accidents occur in rail yards, and of those, over half are attributed to human factors or human error.

Rail yards, despite being integral to the effective functioning of the railroad industry, also contribute to a significant portion of rail accidents. 

Astonishingly, statistics reveal that approximately 60% of all rail accidents occur within rail yards. It is disheartening to note that more than half of them are attributed to human factors or human error. [6]

Rail Yard Accidents
8.

There were ten train incidents involving the release of hazardous materials last year. In both 2018 and 2020, there were 20 incidents each year.

Last year, the railroad industry faced a concerning situation with approximately 10 train incidents involving the release of hazardous materials.

This alarming statistic raises serious concerns regarding the safety protocols and precautions in place within the industry. The number of releases of hazardous materials reached its highest point in both 2018 and 2020, with a peak of 20 incidents. [7]

Hazardous Materials From Trains
9.

The majority of crossing accidents, specifically 94 percent, are caused by risky driver behavior.

When it comes to accidents when crossing the train tracks, 94% of the time, the accident is attributed to risky driver behaviors. These behaviors can include drivers disobeying signals at a railway crossing, driving around lowered crossing gates, or disregarding warning signs and lights.

Other factors contributing to crossing accidents include the failure of the driver or pedestrians to look both ways before entering a railroad crossing and the presence of vehicles or pedestrians on the tracks. [8]

Railroad crossing incidents rank as the second highest cause of rail-related fatalities in the United States.

10.

On average, a train collision occurs every 115 minutes in America, frequently resulting in fatalities.

Train collisions are a very serious issue in the United States, and they occur far too often. According to Operation Life Saver, an average of one train collision happens every 115 minutes in America. Unfortunately, these collisions often result in fatalities and injuries. 

Around 2,000 Americans suffer fatalities or injuries at highway/rail grade crossings each year. [9]

Train Collisions in America
As you can see, train incidents have increased over time, and if changes are not made, they will continue to increase.  If you or someone you love has been injured by a train incident, the train accident lawyers at Goldberg & Loren offer a free consultation.

Sources:

[1] Railroad Deaths and Injuries – Injury Facts. (2022, July 8). Injury Facts. https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/home-and-community/safety-topics/railroad-deaths-and-injuries/

[2] Collisions & Fatalities by State | Operation Lifesaver. (n.d.). https://oli.org/track-statistics/collisions-fatalities-state

[3] Trespassing Casualties by State | Operation Lifesaver. (n.d.). https://oli.org/track-statistics/trespassing-casualties-state

[4] Chart of the Day: Over 30 railroad incidents per day in the U.S. (2023, February 19). CGTN. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2023-02-19/Chart-of-the-Day-Over-30-railroad-incidents-per-day-in-the-U-S–1hy0mN7n1Vm/index.html

[5] Hernandez, J. (2023, March 9). There are about 3 U.S. train derailments per day. They aren’t usually major disasters. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2023/03/09/1161921856/there-are-about-3-u-s-train-derailments-per-day-they-arent-usually-major-disaste

[6] Longer trains, fewer workers: Minnesota derailment follows years of railroad cost cutting. (n.d.). USA TODAY. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/03/31/train-derailments-us-follow-years-cost-cutting-railroads/11479655002/

[7] “This is a big, big deal”: Ohio’s governor is shocked at the toxic train derailment that forced a town to evacuate. (n.d.). Fortune. https://fortune.com/2023/02/09/how-safe-railroad-industry-ohio-norfolk-southern-crash-big-deal-mike-dewine/

[8] FRA: Most rail fatalities are avoidable. (n.d.). Times Herald-Record. https://www.recordonline.com/story/news/2015/02/05/fra-most-rail-fatalities-are/35217389007/

[9] Railroad Crossing Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2023, from https://www.tdi.texas.gov/pubs/videoresource/fsrailroadcross.pdf

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