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Seated For Safety: Can You Protect Yourself While Riding The Rails?

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- For the thousands of people in the Tri-State area who use a train to commute the question of where to sit doesn't usually involve safety concerns.

But, there is a rule of thumb that experts say would not have applied in the case of Sunday's deadly Metro-North derailment, CBS 2's Emily Smith reported.

National Association of Railroad Passengers, President Ross Capon said that the middle cars of a train are usually the safest in the event of a collision. In Sunday's derailment train cars rolled off of the tracks.

"If you have a head on collision or rear end collision you are probably going to be safer," Capon explained.

If you are making a seating decision based on safety, experts also suggested avoiding window seats.

"If three of the fatalities yesterday resulted from people being ejected one can speculate you're more likely to be ejected if you are sitting next to the window," Capon said.

Steve Ciccone said that his decision to choose a seat without a window wound up saving his life.

"Because I was on that wall I didn't go through the windows when they blew out and that was able to sustain me and some others," he said.

Still, foolproof guidelines are impossible to establish.

"You can always find oddball accidents where any advice one gives proves to be wrong," Capon said.

Passengers have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being involved in a train crash, Capon explained, but the risk remains real.

Between 2003 and 2012 there were 349 people struck and killed by lightning and only 70 killed on U.S. railways.

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