Characteristics of victims of lethal accidents

People who died by accident on the railway network in Canada display the following characteristics:


Accident victims had a mean age of 39.74 years old, with no significant difference between male and female victims.


Percentage of total accidents by age groups

Accidents represent a larger proportion of all fatalities for the very young (100%) and older (59.8%) individuals. For young adults, accidents consist of between 41.7 and 44.5% of fatalities. This means that age plays an important role in the incidence of railway accidental deaths.


Although there are far more males involved in fatal accidents (N=341) than female (N=96), amounting to a 4:1 ratio, accidental deaths represent 46% of fatalities for both genders. This means that although females are less often involved in railway fatalities, the proportion of accidents and suicides is the same as for males.

 Number of railway accidental deaths over 10 years

Employment at the time of death

We found a greater number of individuals in the sample of people who died by accident on the tracks were unemployed compared to the general population (12.8% versus 7.4% respectively).

Employment status at time of accident


Marital status

  • 75.9% of the accident victims were in a relationship at the time of death.
  • Single men are more frequent in our sample (23.7%) compared to single women (5.3%)

Number of victims

Most accidents involve the death of a single person (87.8%), although more may be injured. However, 10.2% involved 2 people and 1.9% more than 2 people


Life events

Beside substance use  (present in 72.5% of accident victims) there is very little information in the files about the life events and circumstances surrounding accidental deaths. However, although this information is not frequently available, and therefore greatly underestimated, we found that 19.4% of accident victims had a chronic health problem, 13.7% had a severe mental health problem and 18% a substance abuse problem.