Train Crossing Accidents - The Danger in Urban and Rural Areas Alike

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Crossing accidents occur throughout the nation at a alarming rate

Train crossing accidents continue to occur throughout the nation at a alarming rate. Operation Lifesaver, an international non-profit organization dedicated to reducing train and railroad crossing accidents, states that approximately every two hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train in the United States. This danger is not likely to go away as an increasing number of trains are busy carrying freight and passengers both in densely populated urban areas and rural locations.

According to Federal Railroad Administration records, California had 822 railroad crossing accidents during the three years ending in December 2011, or 6 percent of crossing accidents nationally.

Some of the most common types of train accidents that occur at crossings are collisions with motor vehicles and incidents involving pedestrians. In addition to operator error, defective rail equipment, such as non-functioning crossing gates, can also result in serious injury and wrongful death. In the event of defective equipment causing damages, the train operator or railroad company could be held liable for damages.

A failure to equip and maintain train crossings

In many cases, railroad crossing accidents occur because the railroad company fails to safely maintain the area around the train crossing. Visual obstacles such as overgrown vegetation, trees or buildings can limit the driver’s view of an oncoming train until it is too late to avoid a crossing accident.

In other cases, warning devices like signals and signs are designed or installed in such a manner that they fail to alert drivers that a train is coming. In other instances they are not working properly, poorly maintained, or simply were not installed in the first place.

Negligence on the part of the railroad workers can also contribute to a railroad crossing accident. Trains traversing populated areas at excessive speeds
can approach a railroad crossing so rapidly that drivers cannot react fast enough to avoid a collision. Delayed sounding of the train’s whistle when approaching a populated area can leave drivers unaware that a train is approaching until it is too late.

Daniel A. Gibalevich
DAG Law Firm

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