Without going through a formal statistical analysis we cannot be certain, but it seems there have been an unusual number of train accidents lately. Cars stalled on tracks or straddling the tracks accidentally and trucks carrying oversized loads -- is this a real trend, or is it just that the two crashes in February triggered a newsroom feeding frenzy with every train-motor vehicle accident?
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Patsy Cline, Glenn Miller, John Denver -- the musicians and singers who have died in airplane crashes are a diverse group. The accidents themselves illustrate a number of risks associated with general aviation flights. They also have an important thing in common: Pilot error, investigators concluded, was responsible for the crashes.
What is it about celebrities and airplane crashes? There is something strangely compelling about the stories of singers, actors, even politicians killed in plane crashes, a friend of ours explains. She recently spent more than an hour at the website PlaneCrashInfo.com looking at the lists of strange and unusual accidents and accidents that killed famous people.
The website Distraction.gov has a motto of sorts: One-text or call could wreck it all. The site, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a kind of one-stop-shop for information and data about distracted driving. There is a lot of information available, including the most recent statistics for distraction-related motor vehicle accidents. In 2012, 3,328 people died and about 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents.
Drones are either wonderful tools or the scourge of the Earth. They save lives in military operations and save money by running site inspections at remote oilfields. But they can also peek in bedroom windows if the real estate agency gets a little careless, and they can fly dangerously close to airliners, as US Airways discovered in March.
A friend of ours in Minneapolis told us a few months ago that she was outside at lunch time and just happened to look up. There was a strange, spidery thing hovering in midair. It was quite large, and she looked at it for what felt like an eternity; she noticed, however, that she was the only one staring at it, and she went back to her office.
In our last post, we wrote about a lawsuit filed recently by a mother whose two children died in a small plane crash. The defendants in the suit are the companies that manufactured or serviced the plane and its components. She is not blaming the crash on pilot error. This crash, she says, was the result of negligent acts that occurred before the pilot took the controls.
Because multiple parties may be liable for a single airplane accident, attorneys who handle these cases for crash victims' families must thoroughly investigate the crash and prove to what extent each of the defendants was negligent.
We are finishing up our discussion of the plane crash that killed four Case Western Reserve University students. The news has been fairly quiet in the past week, following the flurry of stories about text messages and pictures and potential lawsuits.
Most plane accidents occur on takeoff or landing. In the case of the small plane crash we have been talking about -- the crash that killed all four Case Western Reserve University students aboard -- the pilot radioed the tower moments after takeoff that the plane was not gaining altitude. Chances are that the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigators will rely in part on what they have learned from all those other accidents to figure out what caused this one.