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The Statistics on Public Transportation Accidents May Surprise You

While private vehicles still dominate our roadways, in the United States, millions of people use public transportation for both work and personal travel. According to the American Public Transportation Association, on average, Americans use public transportation 34 million times each week.

A U.S. Census Bureau report also shows that in 2019, the most common means of public transportation for commuters age 16+ was bus (46.3%). Other types of public transportation include subway or elevated rail, long-distance train or commuter rail, taxicab, lightrail, streetcar, trolley and ferryboat.

In fact, the first public transportation in the United States started in Boston in the 17th century in Boston, was a  system that consisted of ferries and horses with carts. Today, our means of public transportation have grown to a wide variety of options.In recent years, due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer people commute to work – i.e. driving or using public transportation, as a result of more people working from home.Even with the decrease in commuting, traffic accidents continued to increase. In fact, the number of fatalities from car crashes has increased each year since 2019, totaling more than 42,915 killed in 2021, the highest since 2005.

Much of the data seems to indicate the reasons for these increases are related to stress from the pandemic, and drivers engaging in riskier driving behaviors, such as increased alcohol use and recklessness.

How Safe Is Public Transportation?

We see dramatic news footage involving public transportation more frequently, although statistically public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than when traveling by private vehicle. Unfortunately, when a passenger train derails or a bus crashes, it often involves injuries and/or casualties to a large number of people.

Although traffic accidents involving public transport don’t happen a lot, when they do, they’re often catastrophic. The following are recent examples of public transportation accidents.

  • In June 2022, an Amtrak train collided with a dump truck in Missouri, killing four and injuring approximately 150.
  • A charter bus in San Diego overturned in February 2020, killing three people and injuring 18 others.
  • Train accidents can involve derailments as well as collisions with vehicles on crossings. In California alone, there were 35 fatalities involving trains and highway users at crossing sites.

What Are the Causes of Public Transportation Accidents?

A variety of reasons can lead to a public transportation accident. Below are some of the most common causes:

  • Weather Related: Rain, snow and even excessive wind can contribute to a traffic accident. Weather can be especially problematic for inexperienced drivers.
  • Problems With Vehicles: Sudden flat tires, faulty brakes, steering problems and even issues with headlights can all be dangerous when driving and contribute to accidents.
  • Driver Fatigue: Public transportation drivers often work long hours and may not be given adequate time off between shifts or long enough breaks during shifts. This can lead to errors that cause serious accidents.
  • Inadequate Training: Drivers may be put on the job when they haven’t had sufficient training to do the job safely. Drivers must also receive ongoing training in order to learn how to operate new equipment.
  • Passenger Distraction: Carrying too many passengers at one time or dealing with unruly passengers can cause drivers to become distracted.
  • Passenger Inattention: People waiting for a bus or subway can sustain injuries by crowding too close to the line for pickup or not paying attention when they are getting on and off the transportation vehicle.
  • Improper Maintenance: Poor equipment or lack of maintenance can contribute to a traffic accident. Public transportation vehicles that are used on a daily basis must adhere to a strict maintenance schedule.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine who is at fault after a traffic accident occurs. This is why it’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who understands the law.

How Can Dunnion Law Help?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a public transportation accident, it’s important to consult with a legal firm that knows where to begin the process, and the multiple entities – municipal, state, federal, etc. – that may be involved in a public transit accident. There also may be deadlines about when a lawsuit can be filed, and when responses for request may need to be submitted.

Our legal team has represented thousands of clients, and has a track record of successful outcomes. In addition to public transportation accidents, Dunnion Law also handles pedestrian accidents, dog bite injuries, slip and fall injuries, catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. We work exclusively in personal injury and have the experience and expertise to get the results you deserve.

Our team can walk you through the legal complexities of public transportation laws and help you receive the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. When you’re suffering from life-altering injuries, you need a team of experienced lawyers on your side. Contact us at Dunnion Law today.