of federal regulation had little impact on both the causation and the consequences of the Lynchburg derailment.
Can we expect further regulation and increased enforcement of regulations to have a significant effect on ameliorating risk? Or would legal actions to ensure that the full costs of external harms are passed along to the shippers of hazardous materials be more effective? Faced with higher transportation costs, the shippers may demand more modern tank cars, choose modified routings, change their supply chain, or consider whether to reformulate their products.
The arguments thus far may have given the reader a skewed perspective on the most pressing rail safety issues. There is no doubt that the derailment at Lynchburg could have been much worse. However, a look at the tabulation of rail-related fatalities and injuries in Virginia in 2012 and 2013 highlights the fact that priority should be given to tackling other types of risks.
Table 1: Railroad Fatalities and Injuries in Virginia, 2012 and 2013
crossings?”). While the risk to motor vehicle occupants at cross- ings has dropped significantly, the number of pedestrians killed has remained stubbornly unchanged. In the U.S. in recent years, an average of 775 pedestrians have died each year on railroads
as users of grade crossings, trespassers on the tracks, or suicide victims. Pedestrians comprise 80 percent of total railroad deaths, with motor vehicle occupants at grade crossings representing another 16 percent (“Analysis of fatal train-pedestrian collisions in metropolitan Chicago 2004-2012”). So while fiery derail- ments may claim public attention, perhaps the biggest payoff in lifesaving would come from continuing aggressive measures to improve or eliminate grade crossings and to developing trespass and suicide prevention strategies.
Coase, Ronald H. “The problem of social cost.” Journal of Law and Economics 3 (1960): 1-44.
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“Inspectors find scores of defects on CSX rails across the state.” Tidewater Daily Press, 27 Sep. 2014. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.
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Savage, Ian. “Analysis of fatal train-pedestrian collisions in metropolitan Chicago 2004-2012.” Proceedings of the 2014 Global Level Crossing Symposium, Urbana- Champaign: University of Illinois, 2014. Print.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada. “Runaway and Main-Track Derailment, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Freight Train MMA-002, 06 July 2013.” Railway Investigation Report R13D0054. 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.
U.S. Congress. “Rail Safety Improvement Act.” Public Law 110–432, 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.