The transportation industry plays a vital role in our everyday lives, moving people and goods across the globe. However, with this essential function comes a significant amount of risk. Accidents in the transportation industry can have devastating consequences, impacting individuals and the broader community. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the leading causes of accidents in the transportation industry, from air travel to road transport. By understanding these risks, we can work towards creating safer transportation systems and preventing accidents from occurring in the future. 

So, let’s look at the leading accidents in the transportation industry.

Driving Accidents

Driving accidents are a major cause of injuries and fatalities worldwide. These accidents can happen for various reasons, including driver error, poor road conditions, and vehicle malfunctions. Let’s take a closer look. 

  • Rear-end collisions. A rear-end collision occurs when one vehicle hits another vehicle from behind. Distracted driving and following the car in front of you too closely are the most common causes of rear-end collisions.
  • Head-on collisions. These collisions happen when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide in a frontal impact. The most common causes of head-on collisions include driver distraction, fatigue, impaired driving, and reckless overtaking. These accidents can happen on any road but are more likely to occur on highways and rural roads. 
  • T-bone collisions. These collisions occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle, forming a “T” shape. They can happen at intersections, parking lots, or where two vehicles cross paths.
    Common causes of T-bone collisions include speeding, running red lights, distracted driving, and failure to yield the right of way.
  • Single-vehicle accidents. Single-vehicle accidents are a common type of car accident that involves only one vehicle. These accidents can happen for various reasons, including driver error, mechanical failures, and environmental factors. 
  • Multi-vehicle pile-ups. A multi-vehicle pile-up involves three or more vehicles colliding. These accidents can happen on highways, freeways, or any roadway where numerous vehicles are close to each other. 
  • Multi-vehicle pile-ups often occur due to chain reactions. The causes of multi-vehicle pile-ups vary, including poor weather conditions, low visibility, distracted driving, speeding, or mechanical failures.
  • Rollover accidents. A rollover accident is when a vehicle tips on its side or roof during a crash. Depending on the force of the collision, a car might roll just once, but it could also roll multiple times before coming to a stop. A rollover accident can involve one or more vehicles. 
  • Hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver flees the scene without providing their contact or insurance information or rendering aid to those involved. Hit-and-run accidents are illegal and can result in fines, license suspension, and jail time. 
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist accidents. This type of accident occurs when a vehicle collides with a pedestrian or cyclist on the road or the sidewalk. 
  • These accidents are hazardous because pedestrians and cyclists are more vulnerable to injury or death since they lack the protection that a vehicle provides. Driver negligence, distracted driving, failure to yield to pedestrians or cyclists, and poor visibility are the leading causes. 
  • Weather-related accidents. Rain, snow, ice, fog, and strong winds are common causes of weather-related accidents. These conditions make roads slippery, decrease visibility, and reduce the traction of the vehicle’s tires. 
  • Driving slowly, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, and avoiding sudden maneuvers are the best way to prevent these accidents. 

Airplane Accidents

While air travel is generally safe, accidents do occur, with causes varying from pilot error to mechanical failure to weather conditions. Let’s take a closer look. 

  • Controlled flight into terrain. A controlled flight into terrain is a type of aviation where an aircraft unintentionally flies into the ground, a mountain, or other obstacles. It typically occurs when the pilot is unaware of their aircraft’s proximity to the ground or other obstacles due to poor weather conditions, spatial disorientation, or inadequate terrain awareness. 
  • Runway excursions. A runway excursion occurs when an aircraft leaves the runway surface by veering off to the side or overshooting the end of the runway. These surface events occur while an aircraft is taking off or landing and involve many factors ranging from unstable approaches to the runway’s condition. 
  • Loss of control. Loss of control is a significant factor in aviation accidents worldwide and is the leading cause of jet fatalities. It occurs when an aircraft unintentionally departs from its intended flight path and can happen in any phase of flight.
  • Mid-air collisions. Mid-air collisions are a rare but deadly occurrence in aviation. They happen when two or more aircraft collide while in flight. The most common cause of mid-air collisions is a breakdown in communication between pilots and air traffic control, which can result in two or more aircraft being in the same airspace simultaneously. Other causes of mid-air collisions include poor visibility, pilot error, and mechanical failure. 
  • Engine failure. Engine failure is a terrifying experience for any pilot and can occur anytime during a flight, regardless of the aircraft type. It happens when an aircraft’s engine loses power or completely stops working, which can be caused by mechanical failure, fuel contamination, or the pilot. Pilots are trained to quickly assess the situation and take appropriate action when an engine fails, including attempting to restart the engine or making an emergency landing.
  • Fire or smoke in the cockpit or cabin. Fire or smoke in the cockpit or cabin of an aircraft is a serious safety concern that requires immediate attention. It can be caused by various factors, including electrical faults, overheating equipment, or a fuel leak. Pilots are trained to quickly identify the source of the fire/smoke and take appropriate action, which may include shutting off electrical systems, deploying fire extinguishers, or making an emergency landing. Passengers may also be instructed to use oxygen masks and follow evacuation procedures. To prevent fires and smoke, aircraft are equipped with fire detection and suppression systems, and regular inspections are conducted to ensure that all systems are functioning properly. Despite these precautions, fires and smoke can still occur unexpectedly. Pilots and crew members must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to ensure the safety of all onboard.
  • Pilot error. Pilot error is one of the leading causes of aviation accidents and refers to mistakes pilots make during flight operations. These errors can range from misjudging weather conditions to incorrectly interpreting instrument readings or even making poor decisions under pressure. 
  • Improper maintenance or inspection. Improper maintenance or inspection of an aircraft is a serious safety concern that can lead to accidents or incidents. Inspection errors can include missing or improperly installed parts, incorrect torque settings, and failure to recognize wear or damage. These errors can cause equipment malfunctions or failures during flight, putting the aircraft and its passengers at risk.
  • Weather-related incidents. Thunderstorms, strong winds, icing, and low visibility are just a few weather conditions that can cause disruptions or accidents. These incidents can cause flight delays, cancellations, diversions, and sometimes loss of control or impact with terrain. Pilots rely on advanced weather forecasting and communication systems to mitigate the risks associated with weather-related incidents to identify and avoid hazardous conditions. Airlines also have established policies and procedures for weather-related incidents.
  • Wildlife encounters. Wildlife encounters are a significant hazard in aviation and can pose a serious risk to flight safety. Birds, in particular, are a major concern as they can collide with the aircraft, causing damage to engines, windshields, and other critical components. Other wildlife, such as deer or coyotes, can also pose a risk, especially during take-off and landing when aircraft are at a low altitude. To prevent wildlife encounters, airports, and airlines implement various measures, such as habitat management, noise reduction, and bird-scaring devices. Pilots also rely on advanced radar and communication systems to detect and avoid wildlife.

Train Accidents

Train accidents can cause significant damage and loss of life, making them a serious concern for railway operators and passengers alike. These accidents can occur due to various factors, including human error, technical malfunctions, weather conditions, or track defects. 

This section will explore some of the most common causes of train accidents and provide tips on staying safe while traveling by train. 

  • Derailments. A train derailment occurs when a train runs off its tracks. Mechanical failure, track defects, weather conditions, or operator error can cause this. The severity of the derailment depends on several factors, including the train’s speed, the cargo’s nature, and the terrain in which the derailment occurs.
    Train derailments can also have significant economic impacts, disrupting the transportation of goods and services and causing delays and financial losses.
  • Collisions with other trains. Collisions with other trains are rare but potentially catastrophic incidents that can occur in the railway industry. Failure to communicate between train operators, signaling systems, or track maintenance crews often causes these accidents. Collisions can occur when two trains are on the same track traveling in opposite directions or when one train rear-ends another. The speed and weight of the trains involved can result in devastating impacts, causing significant damage to the trains, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Collisions with motor vehicles at railroad crossings. Collisions with motor vehicles at railroad crossings occur when a vehicle fails to stop at a railroad crossing and collides with a train. They can result in severe injuries, fatalities, and significant damage to the train and the vehicle. Factors include driver error, insufficient warning signs or signals, and obstructed views of the tracks. Railways have implemented various safety measures to prevent collisions, including warning signs, lights, and gates at railroad crossings. Train operators also sound their horns as a warning when approaching a railroad crossing. In addition to these measures, drivers of motor vehicles must be aware of railroad crossings and obey traffic laws, including stopping at the designated stop lines and looking both ways before proceeding. Education and awareness campaigns are also conducted to promote safe driving practices around railroad crossings, with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of collisions and keeping both motorists and train passengers safe.
  • Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian accidents involving trains are a significant safety concern in the railway industry. These accidents occur when pedestrians come into contact with trains while crossing railway tracks or walking along them. Pedestrian accidents are often caused by a lack of awareness or understanding of the dangers posed by trains and by distractions such as mobile phones or headphones. Trains can travel at high speeds and cannot stop quickly, making it essential for pedestrians to stay alert and clear of the tracks.
  • Mechanical failures. Mechanical failures are an unfortunate but common occurrence in the railway industry. Trains are complex machines with numerous mechanical components that can experience wear and tear over time, leading to malfunctions and breakdowns. Examples of mechanical failures include brake failures, engine failures, and track defects. Brake failures can occur due to worn brake pads or faulty brake systems, putting the train at risk of collision or derailment. Engine failures can be caused by mechanical issues such as broken pistons or failed bearings, causing the train to lose power and come to a halt. Track defects, such as broken rails or loose bolts, can also cause mechanical failures and derailments.
  • Over-speeding or exceeding the safe weight limit. Over-speeding and exceeding the safe weight limit are two dangerous practices that can result in catastrophic accidents. Over-speeding can occur when drivers or operators fail to follow speed limits or drive too fast for the road or weather conditions. This can lead to loss of control, collisions, and even fatalities. Similarly, exceeding the safe weight limit can put undue stress on vehicles and equipment, causing them to fail and potentially harm people and property. This can occur in various industries, such as trucking or aviation, where weight limits are in place to ensure safety.
  • Signal malfunctions. Signal malfunctions are a significant concern in the transportation industry, particularly in the railway sector. Signals are essential components of railway systems, providing vital information to train operators about track conditions, approaching trains, and potential hazards. When signals malfunction, there is a risk of collisions, derailments, and other serious accidents. Signal malfunctions can occur for various reasons, such as hardware failures, software glitches, or human error.
  • Track or infrastructure issues. Track or infrastructure issues can range from minor defects like cracks or potholes to more severe problems like bridge collapses or track misalignment. Track or infrastructure issues can lead to delays, accidents, and significant costs for repairs and maintenance. To minimize the impact of these issues, regular inspections and maintenance are necessary to identify and repair any defects promptly. Investing in modern infrastructure and technology can help prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.
  • Weather-related incidents. Heavy rainfall, floods, snow, and icy conditions can all increase the risk of train accidents by affecting the condition and visibility of the tracks. For instance, heavy rain can wash out the tracks or cause landslides, making it difficult for trains to navigate. In winter, ice and snow can accumulate on the tracks, making it challenging for trains to stop or causing them to derail. Fog or heavy mist can also reduce visibility, making it difficult for the train operator to see signals or other trains on the track, leading to collisions. Train operators must be aware of the weather conditions and take appropriate measures to ensure that the train operates safely. This may involve reducing the train’s speed or even canceling the service in severe weather conditions.

Water Transportation Accidents

Whether it’s a commercial vessel, a pleasure craft, or a ferry, accidents can occur due to human error, mechanical failure, hazardous weather conditions, or navigational errors. Let’s look at some examples. 

  • Capsizing or sinking. Capsizing occurs when a vessel overturns, while sinking happens when water enters the vessel, causing it to submerge. Various factors, including rough weather conditions, collisions with other vessels, overloading, and poor maintenance can lead to capsizing or sinking.
    When a vessel capsizes or sinks, it can lead to significant loss of life and property damage. Crew members and passengers may drown, suffer from hypothermia, or sustain injuries during evacuation. The environmental impact of capsizing or sinking can also be severe, with oil or other hazardous materials spilling into the water and harming marine life.
    To prevent capsizing or sinking accidents, vessels must undergo regular inspections and maintenance, and crew members should be adequately trained in safety procedures and emergency response.
    Captains should also monitor weather conditions and take appropriate action to avoid adverse weather conditions that could put the vessel and its passengers at risk.
  • Groundings. Groundings occur when a vessel runs aground on a shoal, sandbar, or other underwater obstacles. Groundings can result in significant damage to the vessel, injuries to crew members and passengers, and pollution if the vessel carries hazardous materials.
    Groundings can happen due to various factors, including human error, mechanical failure, or adverse weather conditions. They may also occur due to inaccurate or outdated navigational charts, leading to vessels running aground in areas with insufficient depth or underwater obstacles.
  • Fire or explosion on board. Fires can occur due to various factors, including electrical faults, fuel leaks, or improper handling of flammable materials.
    Explosions can happen due to vapors from fuel or other hazardous materials igniting. The confined space of a vessel can cause fires and explosions to spread quickly, making it difficult for crew members to respond and evacuate safely.
    To prevent fires or explosions, vessels should have proper safety procedures, including regular safety drills and adequate firefighting equipment.
    Crew members should be adequately trained in safety procedures and emergency response. Vessels should undergo regular maintenance and inspections to ensure all systems are in good working order.
    Smoke detectors and fire suppression systems can also help prevent fires and explosions by detecting and extinguishing them early.
  • Flooding or taking on water. Flooding is a common risk for vessels that can easily cause hull damage or equipment failure. Flooding can lead to significant damage to the vessel, injuries to crew members and passengers, and even loss of life.
    The confined space of a vessel can cause flooding to spread quickly, making it difficult for crew members to respond and control the situation. To prevent flooding, vessels should have proper safety procedures, including regular safety drills and adequate watertight compartments.
  • Equipment failure. Equipment failure can cause a vessel to become disabled or lose power in the open sea, leading to significant risks for crew members and passengers. To prevent equipment failure, regular maintenance and inspections are crucial. 
  • Overloading. Overloading a vessel refers to adding too much cargo, equipment, or passengers on board a vessel, exceeding its capacity.
    Overloading can cause the vessel to become unstable, leading to capsizing or sinking. It can also cause damage to the ship and cargo, which can result in financial losses. To prevent overloading, vessels should have a clearly defined maximum load capacity, which should not be exceeded.
  • Piracy or criminal activity. Piracy or illegal activity significantly threatens the safety and security of vessels and crew members. Piracy refers to the act of attacking and robbing ships at sea, while criminal activity can include smuggling, human trafficking, and drug trafficking.
    These activities can cause significant harm to crew members, vessels, and cargo. To combat piracy and criminal activity, vessels should take necessary precautions, such as implementing security protocols, using secure communication systems, and having trained security personnel on board.
    Vessels should also be aware of high-risk areas and take necessary precautions when in transit. In addition, vessels should report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities to help prevent criminal activity.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become a major concern in recent years, with an increasing number of accidents and fatalities attributed to this reckless behavior. Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road. Let’s look at some examples.

  • Using a mobile device. Using a mobile device while driving is a dangerous and illegal practice that can cause accidents and put lives at risk.
    When a driver uses a mobile device, their attention is diverted from the road, reducing their ability to react to potential hazards. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Plus, using a mobile device while driving is illegal in many countries and can result in fines, penalties, and even loss of driving privileges.
  • Eating or drinking. When drivers eat or drink, their attention is diverted from the road, reducing their ability to react to potential hazards. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
    Eating or drinking while driving can cause a driver to take their hands off the steering wheel or their eyes off the road, making it more difficult to control their vehicle.
  • Applying makeup or grooming yourself. When a driver is applying makeup or grooming themselves, their attention is diverted from the road, reducing their ability to react to potential hazards. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. 
  • Adjusting the radio, GPS, or vehicle controls. Adjusting the radio, GPS, or vehicle controls while driving can be a dangerous distraction leading to accidents and injuries.
    When drivers adjust these controls, their attention is taken from the road, reducing their reaction time and potentially causing more accidents. It’s important to handle these controls when your vehicle isn’t moving to avoid risking an accident.
  • Talking on the phone. Talking on the phone is a distraction, even if the driver is hands-free, since it takes their mind off the road. It’s best to reserve phone calls for times when the car is in Park. 
  • Interacting with passengers. Interacting with passengers while driving can be a fun and enjoyable experience, but it can also be a dangerous distraction. When drivers interact with passengers, their attention is diverted from the road, reducing their ability to react to potential hazards. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.
  • Daydreaming. Daydreaming can be a pleasant and relaxing experience, but it’s dangerous when driving and can ultimately cause accidents, injuries, and fatalities. 
  • Rubbernecking. Rubbernecking is when drivers slow down or stop to look at an accident or other event on the side of the road. This behavior can be a significant distraction and cause traffic to slow down or even reach a standstill. Rubbernecking can be dangerous because it takes a driver’s attention away from the road and can cause them to miss important traffic signals or signs. It can also lead to rear-end collisions if the driver in front suddenly brakes to look at the accident.
  • Roadside distractions. Roadside distractions can be anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road and can cause them to become distracted.
    Some common roadside distractions include billboards, roadside attractions, and construction sites. These distractions can be dangerous because they can cause a driver to take their eyes off the road or become overly focused on the distraction instead of the traffic around them. This can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.

Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson Can Help

Even with the best preventive measures, accidents unfortunately still happen. Whether your accident occurred in a car, on a plane, on the water, or by train, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. 

Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson is here to help. We have over 150 years of combined experience representing personal injury victims. We offer free case evaluations to discuss how we can represent you. Call 801.500.4000 to schedule yours today.