Railroad Crossings can be Dangerous

Summer is a busy time. It’s the time of year when many bicyclists, as well as pedestrians and others, are active on the roads. There are also many families traveling for their summer vacation. Many times these individuals will have to deal with a railroad crossing. Too often individuals believe a train accident can’t happen if there are no flashing lights. The reality is many railroad crossings are unguarded. It is possible for a railroad crossing to have lights or gates that are no working properly and more.

Catastrophic Injuries 
Accidents involving trains at railroad crossings result in people experiencing catastrophic injuries. This is the case if an individual is injured while crossing in a car or as a pedestrian. When a train runs into a vehicle like a truck, car or SUV, the accident is loud and severe. In most cases, the deaths resulting from these accidents are able to be prevented. In the past decade, there have been over 29,000 collisions that have occurred at railroad crossings. These collisions have resulted in more than 3,590 deaths.

National Statistics 
Operation Lifesaver is a national, non-profit organization. They provide an education and awareness program designed to end the horrible collisions that cause injuries and fatalities at railroad rights of way and highway-rail grade crossings. According to Operation Lifesaver, over 2,100 vehicle collisions occurred between trains and vehicles in 2017. Over 74 percent of these accidents happened at railroad crossings less than 25 miles away from a victim’s home. Approximately 50 percent of the collisions between vehicles and trains happen at crossings with active warning devices in place. This includes bells, lights, and gates.

There are many different causes for the collisions that occur at railroad crossings. Some are the result of defective warnings devices like lights, gates or bells. It’s also possible for a train to not use its’ whistle when approaching a crossing. Accidents have occurred because crossings have not been properly maintained. Foliage, overgrown trees, and other vegetation have obstructed the views of oncoming trains. It’s also possible for trains to be improperly parked at a crossing and prevent those in a crossing from seeing them. Accidents have also occurred from improper sight lines that make it impossible for a driver to see a moving train until it’s too late.

Most Dangerous States 
These are the states that experience the most fatalities at railroad crossings.

* Missouri
* Illinois
* Alabama
* Florida
* Ohio
* California
* Mississippi
* Indiana
* Louisiana
* Texas

It is the responsibility of a railroad company to make certain the warning systems at a train crossing are active and working properly. There are many times when the negligence of a rail company has resulted in a serious accident. Railroad companies have permitted grass, weeds and other vegetation to become overgrown near railroad crossings. This combined with lights that do not activate properly have produced tragic results.

Driving in the summer can be done safely when a railroad crossing is approached with caution. Drivers need to always be cautious and behave as if the safety equipment at the rail crossing is not operating properly or else they’ll end up needing personal injury lawyers like Baker and Zimmerman. Extra caution needs to be taken when there is significant vegetation or any type of distraction at a railroad crossing. A driver needs to check each direction several times before going across a rail crossing.