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The dangerous mistake people make at railroad crossings

train accident lawyerTrain and railroad crossing accidents are a matter of rising concern. A Metro North crash in New York on February 3rd left six dead, and at least twelve people injured. It was the deadliest crash in the rail’s history.  An SUV became stuck on the train tracks, and the resulting crash killed the driver and five train passengers.

Just a few weeks later on February 24, a commuter train in southern California derailed when it collided with a pickup truck and trailer. The truck caught fire, three train cars toppled over, a fourth derailed but remained upright.

Then, on March 30, a local man was accidentally killed by a train in Clinton County, PA. Police say he was wearing ear buds at the time and likely didn’t hear the train coming.

“Over 2,000 grade-crossing accidents every year, and there are about 250 fatalities, so this is something the NTSB is concerned about,”  National Traffic Safety Board member Robert  Sumwalt told ABC when asked whether rail-crossing accidents are a widespread problem.

As more of these incidents appear in the news, investigators turn their attention to how and why these accidents occur.  Metro North, the nation’s second largest commuter rail system, was under scrutiny not long ago when a derailment in 2013 killed four people. The engineer allegedly dozed off, and the train took a curve at over 80 miles per hour –the maximum speed allowed through that curve is 30 mph. The engineer was revealed to have sleep apnea, which can cause drowsiness and fatigue. The NTSB had called for screening of sleep disorders for engineers but were denied by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Following the 2015 Metro North crash, senators from New  York and Connecticut called for more funding to improve safety at rail crossings. Safety measures would include gates, lights, also for funds to pay to relocate crossings. Several of NY’s crossings where rail lines intersect streets are among the most dangerous in the nation, according to a NYT study. Some have even been described as “accidents waiting to happen. ”

What Are The Facts Around Train Deaths?

Railroad passenger deaths are rare – the people more likely to be injured are drivers on the road coming into contact with a train, or being on the track at the wrong time.Safety improvements for the train industry will help, but drivers and pedestrians must bear part of the responsibility as well. Even if a train engineer applies the brake in an attempt to avoid a crash, it can take a train up to a mile to come to a stop. In short, it’s much easier for a car to avoid being on the tracks in the first place than it is for a train to avoid hitting that car.  So, pay attention to signals, never walk or stop your vehicle on train tracks, and do not assume that a train is not coming based on time of day.

If you have been hurt in a train accident as a passenger, railroad employee, motorist, or pedestrian, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. We will answer your questions and help you to determine the next steps to take. Fill out our contact form or call us at 855-866-5529. 


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