Data-Dive: Crude-By-Rail’s Safety Record Depends On How You Count

As more and more crude oil travels by rail, the number of railroad accidents involving oil are on the rise, Politico reports. But whether crude-by-rail’s safety record is actually getting worse remains an open question: Are crude-by-rail accidents growing faster than shipments, or are they simply keeping pace? There are a few ways to measure the severity of an accident:

fatalities and injuries
monetary damages
gallons of oil spilled. Politico published the number of crude-by-rail incidents, by year, from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) database and the monetary damages (in dollars) of those incidents. So for now, we’ll focus our analysis on those metrics.