The Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, Washington has called into question the general safety of mass transit systems across the United States. The train, taking a new route for the first time, derailed. Some passenger cars fell off an overpass above Interstate 5, killing three passengers and injuring dozens of passengers and drivers on the Interstate. Preliminary reports indicate that the train was traveling at 80 mph on a curve designated for 30 mph speeds. Positive train control (PTC), a technology designed to limit the speeds of trains automatically, was installed, but not yet activated.
Southern Californians may remember when PTC became a national issue after the 2008 train crash in Chatsworth. In that crash, it was determined that an engineer was texting when he ran through a red signal and caused a collision, killing 25 people. Due to the Chastworth crash, Congress implemented a law requiring all railroads to use PTC technology by the end of 2015. The deadline has since been extended to the end of 2018.
For more information about the Washington train crash, click here.
While train crashes like the Washington derailment tend to scare people away from riding public transportation systems, it’s important to note that traveling by rail is still much safer than driving in a car. Traveling by car has a risk of fatality around 7.3 per billion passenger-miles while riding a train has a fatality rate of about 0.15 per billion passenger-miles. These statistics make the risk of a fatal car accident about 49 times greater than a fatal train accident.
The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth offers personal injury legal help to the victims of car accidents and anyone injured in mass transit or public transportation crashes. Call 888-517-9888 for a free consultation.