BOISE -- Following an accident involving a train on Wednesday, KTVB analyzed data to look at the Trends on the Tracks to examine how many train accidents we have in our state every year.
A train hit 19-year-old Juan Silva while he walked on a railroad bridge in Payette Wednesday morning. As of Thursday night, he was still in critical condition at Saint Alphonsus. Witnesses said he was clipped by the train while trying to run away and had his leg badly mangled.
An investigation is still underway, but witnesses believed the young man didn't hear the train coming until it was too late. Though circumstances are still unknown, KTVB looked into how often train crashes and railroad accidents occur.
Through the Idaho Public Utilities Commission, KTVB obtained records on all accidents involving trains at railroad crossings and built a database. Idaho averages 14 accidents a year.
The biggest thing we see I think on a regular basis is that people don't have a regard for the danger that a train poses, Boise Police Lieutenant Ron Winegar said.
Winegar has personally responded to train accidents and says while drivers, cyclists or pedestrians sometimes get lucky, but some cases can be devastating.
In the last five years (2009-2013), KTVB found there have been 71 accidents at railroad crossings around Idaho, and 9 people have been killed in those.
In nearly half of the cases, the accident reports showed drivers didn't yield or stop for an oncoming train, or stopped briefly and then drove through.
They'll come up to a flashing red light at a crossing, they'll look, they may even see the train and just think, I've got time, and they try to cross, Winegar said.
Police say many people misjudge an oncoming train, and officers say it's never worth the gamble.
A train is so big that it just naturally looks like it's moving slower than it is, Winegar said. The train always wins because of the weight ratio and the power that is there in that train. It can be devastating.
On top of safety concerns, BPD says drivers can get a $90 ticket from police for not following crossing signals or signs, or for stopping on the tracks. Walking on tracks is considered trespassing, which can also land someone a ticket.
To view the Excel file with the data compiled by KTVB, click here.