Accidents happened on the Washington & Old Dominion. Mishaps resulted from washouts of the roadbed, loose rails, rotting ties, or from livestock wandering across the tracks. Crew negligence also played a part.
One of the earliest and most serious accidents occurred in Round Hill, Virginia. On Christmas Day 1874, an engine in the process of being turned around fell off the turntable and crushed a crewman.
Perhaps the most dangerous situation arose from dozens of at-grade street crossings. Despite automatic warning signals and train whistles, automobile drivers often could not resist the temptation to outrun what looked like slow-moving trains.
In 1952 on Shirley Highway (I-395), a dump truck loaded with asphalt failed to brake in time and hit a westbound locomotive. The engine was plunged into an embankment, freight cars were derailed, and several people were injured. The driver of the truck was killed.