A terrible accident could have been much worse
A stunned onlooker captured the moment an Amtrak train hit a semi truck that had grounded out on a level crossing on October 15th. The incident occurred in Thackerville near the border between Texas and Oklahoma - fortunately nobody was killed and only four passengers aboard the train were injured.
Considering the sight of the collision, it's a wonder that there weren't far more serious consequences.
Moments before the collision the semi which - was carrying cars aboard its trailer - had become grounded on the tracks, which are slightly elevated.
Fortunately the truck driver and his dogs had exited the cab of the truck before the train could hit the stranded vehicle. According to a local sheriff, onlookers had attempted to reach the emergency control center for the train operator but hadn't managed to do so before the train hit the stranded truck.
Another incident for Amtrak
The incident in Thackerville follows another major recent railway incident for Amtrak - on September 25th a train bound for Seattle was derailed in Northern Montana. The accident claimed the lives of 3 of the 146 passengers and 13 crew onboard, and another 50 were injured - mainly cuts and bruises.
Rail travel is traditionally thought of, and remains one of the safest forms of mass transit. A report from Forbes Magazine from 2015, published after another Amtrak derailed outside of Philadelphia which claimed 5 lives - reported that it is almost as safe as air travel.
The issue is that when a plane crashes or a train is involved in an incident like this one, it's spectacular and headline grabbing. And yet, when considered against road traffic accidents that kill people, the numbers involved are tiny.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2020 around 38,680 people died (over 100 per day) in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the USA - a 7.2% increase from the year prior, in spite of the fact that many more people were living under lockdowns for some of the year.
Thank goodness it wasn't worse
It's a big relief that in spite of how extreme the crash in Thackerville looks, there weren't more injuries. It will hopefully serve as a reminder for drivers all over, to be more mindful and careful when crossing railway lines, just in case there's a risk of getting stuck and then struck by a train.