America’s railroads are experiencing record levels of traffic, with transportation of both freight and of passengers on the rise. A major consequence of this demand is an increased potential for accidents, particularly at railroad crossings. The accidents that occur at railroad crossings located throughout the United States are extremely serious and frequently result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities. In addition to the injuries suffered by motorists and their passengers, such accidents can result in train derailments and in the release of hazardous materials into the environment. The U.S. railroad system consists of approximately 750 railroads running on 140,000 miles of track. Every day, trains travel across more than 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings. A grade crossing is a site where a public highway, road, street or private roadway crosses railroad tracks at the same level as the street. There are also 38,000 locations nationwide where the railroad tracks and roadways cross at different levels.
Increased Traffic = Increased Accidents
Preliminary numbers for 2014 show an increase in the number of collisions (2,280) and the number of deaths (267) with 832 people injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that a motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.
Causes of Railroad Crossing Accidents
There are countless reasons why railroad crossing accidents occur. One reason is that motor vehicle drivers do not realize that trains cannot stop quickly. For example, a 150-car freight train traveling 50 miles per hour takes 8000 feet (or 1.5 miles) to stop. An 8-car passenger train traveling 79 miles per hour takes 6000 feet (or 1-1/8 miles) to stop. Of course, inattentive motor vehicle drivers are only one cause of railroad crossing accidents.
Improving Safety at Railway Crossings
Sometimes, railroad companies are negligent by failing to provide adequate warning systems. All railroad crossing safety equipment must be properly maintained to ensure the safety of train passengers, drivers and pedestrians. If any of the railroad crossing signs, signals, lights or gates are not functioning adequately, they must be repaired immediately by the railroad company. Additionally, railroad companies may be held liable for improper maintenance, improper installation of federally-approved crossing equipment or improper care of such equipment.
Trains are required by federal law to have headlights and loud horns, so whether or not the crossing is working properly, you should know a train is coming. Tips to ensure railroad crossing safety include:
- Never drive or walk around lowered gates or flashing red lights.
- Expect a train on any track at any time.
- Never try to race a train to the crossing.
- Do not get trapped on the tracks. Proceed only when you can clear the crossing without stopping.
- Get out of your vehicle if it stalls on a crossing. If a train is coming, quickly move away from the tracks in the direction from which the train is approaching.
- When crossing the railroad tracks on foot, always cross at the highway-rail grade crossing and obey all signs and signals.
Georgia Legal Claims
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as the result of a railroad crossing accident in Georgia, please contact the Mann Law Firm to discuss your train accident case. You may be able to file a claim to recover your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, loss of current and future earnings, loss of future enjoyment, and pain and suffering. The goal of the Middle GA train accident lawyers at the Mann Law Firm is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients. For a free consultation regarding your legal concerns, please fill out this evaluation form or call us at (478) 742-3381. We have been successfully representing clients injured in a variety of personal injury accidents for more than 50 years. Let us help you.
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