railroad crossing accidents

Hazards Drivers Face at Railroad Crossings

An efficient and safe railroad makes transportation and transporting of goods faster, easier, and more affordable. However, this type of transportation also poses unique risks to pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and those who live and work near railroad tracks. As a driver, it is crucial for you to know the risks of railroad crossings and how best to protect yourself from severe and fatal accidents.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a railroad crossing accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the liable party. The sooner you connect with a personal injury attorney, the sooner you can begin exploring your legal options. Call Mann & Potter at 205-879-9661 to schedule a consultation now.

Railroad Accident Statistics

In general, train accidents have decreased over the years. This is due in large part to increased public education efforts and greater safety efforts on the part of municipal governments, railway owners, and other government entities. Of the nearly 5,500 railroad injuries that occurred in 2020, about 12% happened at railroad crossings. This represents a decrease from 18% of accidents that occurred in 2019. While these numbers are going in the right direction, it is still crucial that we continue to make these accident hot spots safer.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Pedestrians and bicyclists can be a serious threat to drivers at railroad crossings. A car crossing when the alarms start going off can encounter pedestrians or bicyclists who are anxious to beat the gate and get through in time. This puts drivers in the incredibly unsafe position of either having to keep driving, which means risking hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist, or coming to a sudden stop, which puts them at risk of being hit by an oncoming train. This is why so many public safety and education efforts focus on keeping pedestrians and bicyclists off of the tracks as soon as the first alarm goes off.

Malfunctioning Gates and Alarms

Malfunctioning gates and alarms are unfortunately very common, and they pose major risks to drivers. Maintaining these safety systems can be very expensive, particularly for small or rural municipalities that have limited funds. As a result, these projects get pushed to the side until a town’s left with a half-functioning railway crossing.

Gates that do not come down in time or that come down too slowly put drivers at risk of ending up in the path of an oncoming train. Alarms that are too quiet or do not make any sound can leave drivers stuck between the gates in the path of a train or cause drivers to drive through a gate, risking public property and their own safety. It is crucial for municipalities to adhere to recommended maintenance schedules for optimal safety.

Limited Line of Vision

Drivers should always have a clear line of vision when approaching a railroad crossing. This allows them to detect any oncoming trains and verify that it is safe to cross. A number of situations can interrupt a driver’s line of sight. First, the construction of new buildings or remodeling of existing buildings can block the sight of the train tracks. Second, overgrown plants and bushes can make it nearly impossible for drivers to see around a curve. Both of these situations require drivers to inch up more and more to verify that the tracks are clear, which is an unsafe position for any driver to be in.

Unsafely Parked Trains

In some places, conductors get into the habit of parking their trains on the tracks when they are done for the night. This may be a matter of convenience if the train yard is too far, or it may simply allow them to get back to the train quicker in the morning. However, this can block drivers from seeing trains approaching from the opposite direction. Additionally, drivers get used to seeing a train parked on the tracks and don’t stop to check to see if it’s moving. This gives many drivers a false sense of security and increases the likelihood of an accident.

Discuss Your Claim with Mann & Potter

Train accidents often cause severe or fatal injuries, leaving victims with financial, physical, and emotional trauma. If you’ve been the victim of a train accident, let us help. Schedule a consultation with Mann & Potter now by contacting us online or calling us at 205-879-9661.

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