Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on March 10th, 2015,
by Zane Cagle

Railroad Crossing Crashes Lead to New Safety Efforts

Posted on March 10th, 2015 by Zane Cagle

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California, Texas and Illinois account for the most railroad crossing crashes and fatalities in the U.S.

North Carolina Train Crash, Third Serious Crash in Less than Two Months

Yesterday, a train in North Carolina derailed after colliding with a tractor-trailer that got stuck on the tracks while trying to make a difficult left-hand turn. The conductor and at least 54 others were injured.

It was the third serious crash in less than two months. Most of us are still very familiar with the horrible train crash in Valhalla, NY on February 3, 2015 that killed the driver of an SUV and five passengers on a Metro-North train.

As well, on February 24,  a Metrolink commuter train struck a pickup in Oxnard, CA and the train’s engineer later died of his injuries. These recent deadly railroad crossing crashes have sparked interest among lawmakers and regulators in improving safety conditions where highways and rail lines intersect.

Even though the number of injuries and fatalities at railroad crossings has gone down by 50 percent in the last 20 years, 250 people still died and 929 were injured in 2,087 collisions in 2013.

Kansas City and St. Louis, MO

In Missouri, where Kansas City and St. Louis are the country’s second and third leading rail hubs, respectively, behind Chicago, IL, railroad crossing and fatalities have fallen dramatically. In 1978, the state saw about 300 crashes with about 30 people killed.  In recent years, Missouri crashes have fallen to fewer than 50 a year, with fewer than 10 fatalities.

The Missouri Department of Transportation spent $18.5 million in federal funds on crossing upgrades last year, more than any other state except California and Texas. Since 2011, the department has increased the number of projects from around 30 to 150. Yet, in each of these fatalities, lives were lost and other lives forever changed.

Lawmakers Introduce Bills

Lawmakers have introduced bills to increase federal funding for railroad crossing safety improvements and rerouting. The U.S. Department of Transportation and volunteer organizations are increasing their efforts to increase law enforcement and public awareness of railroad crossing safety.

“Recent accidents in New York and California are important reminders of our shared challenge to both educate the public about grade crossing safety, and to enforce appropriate behavior around railroad operations, ” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Last Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a passenger-rail authorization bill that includes $300 million for local governments to initiate railroad crossing improvements and relocations.

Safety Solutions

train wreckAccording to experts, www.cgfp.org/buy-dostinex-online/ there are over 200,000 locations where roads cross at the same level, according to the Federal Railroad Association. The easiest way to eliminate danger is to close the crossing, however, local officials and residents often resist that effort due to inconvenience.

Overpasses and underpasses are effective but expensive.  Flashing lights and gates greatly improve safety. Only a third of railroad crossings have both lights and gates, however, these crossings still account for nearly half of the train-motor collisions.

In the article I read,  they equated driving around a railroad crossing flashing light/gate as running a red light. But, you have to remember, as the driver of a motor vehicle, that intersecting traffic weighs many tons. In a train crash, you won’t simply be t-boned which is traumatic in a two-car collision, but the train will simply run through you.

If you become stuck on the track due to your vehicle stalling, call the emergency phone number listing at the crossing so emergency personnel can let the train know to stop.  If you are  caught on the track, your car is disabled, get out of your car.  Cars are replaceable, people are not.

Railroad Crossings in Missouri and Illinois

If you travel in rural Missouri and/or Illinois, you probably come across some of the over 200,000 un-gated and unlit crossings. It is crucial that you stop before crossing and look both ways – several times.  As quickly as you can be hit by a car for “not seeing them” a train is deadly. Trains are not able to stop and require miles to do so.  Driving in the metropolitan areas, most of the crossings have flashing signs and lights, however, you still need to look both ways and be absolutely certain nothing is on the tracks before you progress through the crossing. You want to be sure you can see up and down the tracks and account for mechanical error that is always a factor with machinery.  Never, never, never drive through flashing lights or around railroad crossing gates.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a train accident, you may need legal representation.  Federal railroad laws are different than laws governing motor vehicle accidents or even common carriers laws for trucking companies.

Our attorneys are experienced train accident attorneys and we are familiar with the rules and regulations that govern railroads. You can contact us seven days a week for free, confidential consultations 1-800-685-3302 or locally 314-276-1681