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Statistics indicate that light rail is by far a safer mode of transportation than other forms of motorized travel. Recent statistics from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis report 42,708 fatalities for all street and highway accidents in 2006. Public transportation represented about 0.003 percent and light rail accounted for only about 0.0003 percent of that total.
Most collisions between light rail and motor vehicles are caused by motorists making illegal or improper turns or running red lights. Illegal turns in front of approaching light rail vehicles account for the greatest percentage of total collisions for most light rail systems. Data from 1998 shows that motorists making improper left turns in front of light rail trains caused 47 percent of all light rail–motor vehicle accidents. However, the improper left-hand turn phenomenon is not specific to light rail.
[Source: Transit Cooperative Research Program]
In a 2002 statement before the Subcommittee On Highways And Transit Committee On Transportation And Infrastructure in the U.S. House Of Representatives, then Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Mary E. Peters said, “Transit has an enviable safety record. Across all modes of public transportation, accidents per million passenger miles decreased by nearly 28 percent between 1993 and 1999; transit passenger injuries per million passenger miles declined nearly 24 percent; and fatalities rates remained stable at .008 deaths per million passenger miles. Largely as a result of technological advances, both light rail and heavy rail showed very significant declines in accidents and injury rates.”
[Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration]