Tuesday's Amtrak derailment, which resulted in at least eight deaths and many injuries, is a tragic event, said Dietrich Jehle, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
"However, while our immediate reaction is to suddenly think that trains are dangerous, it's important to remember that train travel remains statistically much safer than driving," he said. "Trains are approximately 50 times safer per passenger mile traveled than cars."
That information came from a 2013 study Jehle cited, published in the journal Research in Transportation Economics. The study found that, for trains, there are 0.15 deaths per billion passenger miles, as compared to 212 for motorcycles, 7.3 for standard vehicles, including passenger cars, 0.11 for buses and 0.07 for commercial airlines.
Jehle, who is an attending physician in the emergency department at Erie County Medical Center, has long studied the variables that contribute to injuries sustained in car accidents.
Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is beginning a new chapter in its history with the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. The eight-story, 628,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017.