Transportation Accidents

The oh so sad news of the train derailment near Stonehaven in Scotland a couple of days ago where 3 people died reminded me of something I heard many years ago about the huge disparity between road and rail deaths.

The words by American commentator – Rogers E M Whitaker – were unsurprisingly about the situation in the USA but what he said back @1980 still stands – ‘Don’t get on the safe old train get on the safe old highway and get yourself killed’. The point he was making was that because railway accidents, where someone is killed, are so rare they always make media headlines whereas we take deaths on our roads in our stride as they are largely unreported in the national press due to there being so many of them.

For comparison, the latest figures I could find for Scotland showed 160 people died in reported road accidents last year [2018] – an increase of 15 on 2017 – source BBC website/Transport Scotland. See what I mean?

Note – I do appreciate that the accident at Stonehaven could have been far worse in terms of deaths and serious injuries if the sparsely populated train (because of Covid 19 I guess) had been running in more normal times.

2 thoughts on “Transportation Accidents

  1. Phil Holden says:

    Absolutely right, trains are very safe. Don’t forget though there are at least 10 times as many road journeys as rail and a lot fewer road fatalities per mile travelled on roads now than in the past. Notwithstanding the fact that rail accidents affecting passengers are very rare, I wasn’t always impressed by the safety culture in the rail industry. Reporting of incidents isn’t what it should be among the industry’s mainline and underground contractors for a start. And personally I wouldn’t work out on the track with the adjacent line working for the proverbial big clock. But folk get wound up enough over engineering work without the line being closed in both directions. So still scope for improvement from a safety point of view for me

    • Indeed Phil, I seem to recall that some railroads/railways run test trains before the timetabled trains run so to catch any issues since the last train ran the previous day. If such had been done maybe the accident at Stonehaven may well have been prevented?

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