After Amtrak Tragedy, What Everyone Should Know about Train Accidents
On Wednesday, we learned of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, leaving eight people dead and 200 injured. The train was traveling at more than 100 mph, more than double the speed limit for that area. The engineer claims to have no memory of the train derailing.
As of now, all 238 passengers are believed to be accounted for, according to Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter. Amtrak is hoping to resume rail service in the area of the crash next week. Questions about what factors were responsible for the crash, what will become of the engineer, and what will happen to the victims of the accident still remain.
In the wake of this tragedy, here’s what everyone should know
1. First, it is worth noting that train crashes like this one are very rare. You may have heard that, like plane travel, traveling by train is much safer than traveling by car. This is true – per mile, there are significantly fewer train accidents than car accidents. And when trains do derail, most often it is only cargo that is damaged. When accidents like that of Amtrak train 188 do occur, however, they can cause massive damage and leave many people dead or critically injured.
2. Every year there are about 3,000 accidents involving trains. Most of these are collisions with a vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian stopped at a dangerous railroad crossing, as was the case in the Metro North crash on February 3 that killed six people.
3. The most common causes of train wrecks are track malfunction/poorly maintained train tracks (45%) and human error (28%).
4. To compensate for human error, technology is widely used in order to help prevent accidents. “Positive train control” technology is designed to automatically slow or stop a train that is traveling at an unsafe speed. This technology was in use on the southbound tracks of the sharp curve where Amtrak 188 derailed – but not on the northbound route. And it’s not the first time that positive train control technology was absent in the event of a major crash. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Metro-North train that derailed in the Bronx in December 2013, could have been saved from its engineer’s fatal error if automatic braking had been implemented.
5. The unique laws and regulations applying to the rail industry can be complex and different from other personal injury cases. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident with a train, your best course of action is to speak with an attorney who has experience dealing with large transportation companies.
We will post updates on the Amtrak train derailment as the investigation continues.
If you or someone you love was hurt in this event or any other train/rail accident, contact a lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. We are here to answer your questions and help you determine the next steps to take. Fill out our online contact form or call our office at 855-866-5529. Someone will be available to speak with you 24/7.
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