Speed Reads

Numbers don't lie

Despite the Amtrak crash, trains are still an incredibly safe way to travel

In the wake of Tuesday night's Amtrak crash, which left seven people dead, House Republicans proposed cutting Amtrak funding. But as Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday, "starving rail of funding will not enable safer train travel" — and America's train system is still much, much safer than traveling by car.

A 2013 study from Northwestern University published in the journal Research in Transportation Economics found only seven passengers on mainline commercial trains in the U.S. die each year, on average, and the fatality rate of long-haul train service is 0.43 per billion passenger miles.

As The Week's Jacob Anbinder pointed out earlier this year, only 55 U.S. train passengers have been killed in the last 15 years. That's a pretty small number "compared to the 60 or so automobile drivers and passengers who die in car crashes every day," he said. According to the Northwestern study, private cars and light trucks are responsible for an average of 26,678 fatalities each year, and drivers and passengers in cars and light trucks face a fatality risk of 7.3 per billion passenger miles.

Amtrak's disaster is tragic, but it shouldn't discourage you from riding the train — it's still one of the safest ways to travel in the U.S.