Transportation Accidents

For the purpose of this report, a transportation accident is defined as an incident involving air, rail, or highway travel resulting in death, serious injury, or extensive property loss or damage.  Incidents involving hazardous materials are considered in the Hazardous Materials section of this analysis.

Chester County has three public airports, one public heliport, eight private airfields and 19 private heliports.  The county is located beneath the holding patterns of both Wilmington and Philadelphia International Airports. 

The county is also close to flight path used by the military flying in an out of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Montgomery County.  Consequently, air travel is a concern to emergency management personnel.  In 2005 there were 12 small aircraft crashes resulting in six injuries and 12 fatalities.  To date (August 2013), there have been no aircraft disasters involving major commerical airlines in the county.

Chester County is also service by a sizeable rail-line system, which includes SEPTA, Amtrak, Conrail, Octorara Railroad, Canadian Pacific Rail and the Brandywine Valley Railroad.  Within the last decade, there have been no major rail-line incidents involving derailment or injury in Chester County.

The Chester County highway system includes approximately 3,500 miles of roadway.  This includes approximately 26 miles of turnpike, 1,050 miles of state and federal highways, and 2,386 miles of secondary and municipal roads.  According to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, there were 4,537 crashes in 2011 in Chester County.  From those crashes, 2,486 people were injured and 40 people died.

Vulnerability / Maximum Threat

As state previously, Chester County has been spared any major aircraft incidents despite its location beneath holding patterns.  On the other hand, small aircraft incidents have occurred, and county residents are indeed vulnerable to air traffic hazards.

Rail lines pose a hazard to Chester County residents due to heavy commuter traffic and transportation of hazardous materials.

Chester County experiences heavy traffic daily as a result of commuters, large numbers of residents motorists, and travelers on Interstate 76.  Increasing urbanization, tourist trade and the like, contribute to the county's increasing vulnerability to the hazards of motor vehicle traffic.

Chester County is experiencing an increase in vehicular traffic.  Considering the growing transportation network, daily commuters, tourists, and increasing population densities, the county appears vulnerable to accidents involving all modes of available transportation.