Leading causes of train accidents include:
- Human error
- Train operator error
- Train track defects
- Mechanical or electrical failures
- Defects or malfunctions with signals, crossing arms, and warning lights
- Poor train maintenance or defective equipment
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, about half of all train accidents are due to human error of the train operator.
Another leading cause of train accidents is defects in the train track resulting from maintenance failures or structural problems. About one third of all train accidents, including derailments, are caused by defects concerning the train track, roadbed or related structures.
As with any mechanical form of transportation, mechanical failures occur on trains. Sometimes these are due to defective parts and sometimes they are due to worn down, broken parts which may be caused by lack of maintenance. There are over 150,000 railroad crossings throughout the United States, each with its own set of signals, crossing arms, and/or warning lights that alert the public to the approach of a train. Occasional mishaps in these contraptions are bound to occur, and when they do accidents can happen.