Railway Accidents

The Blame Game in Railroad Crossing Accidents

Railroad tracks and trains are privately owned and operated, so railroad companies are wholly responsible for the safety and maintenance of both tracks and their trains. According to the website of Detroit law firm Ravid and Associates, P.C., trains continue to provide reliable and safe transportation for many Michigan residents, and railroad crossing accidents are comparatively rare. However, when they do occur, the results can be devastating. A motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a train collision than in one with another car, even when the train is moving at 30 mph.

Railroad companies still tend to blame victims of railroad crossing accidents, but the fact is most of these incidents occur due to the lack of or defects in safety systems such as flashing lights, gates, and warning signals. The predictions are the precursors for pinpointing which intersections need improvement, including studying sight lines, vegetation growth and better signs.

In most cases, people respect and obey railroad crossing signs and victims could have avoided being involved in accidents if they had enough warning or if the safety systems worked properly. It is not unheard of for railroad companies to cover up their own negligence when railroad crossing accidents occur. A 2004 report from the New York Times reveals how some companies lose or mishandle evidence that is crucial to an accident investigation to avoid liability. Many of these victims live within 25 miles of the scene of the accident, and in the last 20 years in excess of 6,500 people have died as a result of railroad crossing accidents.

If you suffered an injury or someone close to you died as a result of the negligence or carelessness of others, you need to bring your case to a personal injury lawyer in your area. If possible, take your own steps to preserve evidence in railroad crossing accidents that may help you and your lawyer in proving your personal injury claim.

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Avoiding Railway Accidents

Trains are one of the most powerful vehicles on land, especially when they are in motion. They weigh more than a couple of tons, transporting anything from food, equipment, to people. Because of their size and speed they may take a long time to stop, therefore, when road intersections occur, most of the time other vehicles such as cars are the ones that stop to make way for the train to cross. This is the reason why safety gates are vital in these crossroads.

The risk of not having safety gates come in multitudes. They signal the arrival of the train, informing other drivers to stop and allow the train to pass. If the safety gates or signal lights are not functioning properly, they can cause confusion in the drivers, which could lead to fatal accidents. More often, drivers still try to outrun trains, adding to the statistics of 2,746 railroad collisions in 2007 alone. This stark reality, where thousands of people die each year in train accidents, could be changed if all railway intersections were properly maintained.

Not all signals and safety gates are electronically powered, therefore paying close attention when coming across can railroad intersection, and these simple pointers can literally save your life:

  • Always approach the railroad crossing with caution – don’t believe that it is always clear.Never try to beat the train across the tracks.
  • Make sure to always look both ways before crossing the intersection – a train can come in any direction.
  • Before crossing the tracks, make sure there is enough space for your vehicle to cross completely before having to stop again.
  • Always expect a train to come crossing in a railroad intersection.
  • Don’t get trapped in the train tracks – if you do get stuck, move away from the vehicle to a safe location then call for help.
  • Never underestimate the speed and distance of a train – they can act like an optical illusion and fool you.
  • Trains are not always audible, especially if you windows are up. If you can’t see any train coming, roll down your window and try to listen carefully.
  • Always follow warning signs, lights, and safety gates. Avoid playing, trespassing, or walking along or near train tracks.

Even at a slow speed, a train can still inflict serious damage to vehicles, property and people. To make sure you are safe when crossing a railroad intersection, follow the simple tips listed above, and also follow your common sense. Defensive driving is always the best option for protecting yourself from any accidents. However, if you are hurt as a result of malfunctions or defects on a railroad, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you secure compensation for your injuries.

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