How safe are railroad crossings?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fatal Collision Between Car and Train Highlights Safety Concerns

A car with four passengers collided with a train in Jefferson County, adding another tragedy to a growing list of fatal accidents at railroad crossings around the country. Two teens were pronounced dead at the scene, and a third passed away from his injuries several days after the crash. No one on board the train, which had two locomotives and 95 cars, was injured.

The impact from the train pushed the car about half a mile down the tracks, but the train did not derail. This particular railroad crossing has flashing lights and sounds, but it does not have gates. The train was reportedly blowing its whistle at the time of the crash. There is video of the fatal accident, and observers say that it is hard to see approaching trains.

This crossing had been identified months before the crash as needing safety improvements. Gates are expected to be built there late this spring. Funds generally come from the Federal Railroad Administration based on a priority list. Reports indicated that this crossing has had six accidents since 1975, most recently in 2013.

Federal funding for railroad crossing improvements has remained flat for a decade. Lawmakers are seeking to increase the level of funding while the U.S. Department of Transportation and local agencies try to increase public awareness of railroad crossing safety. Law enforcement around the country have stepped up ticketing around railroad crossings.

Despite recent news reports of fatal collisions at railroad crossings, federal statistics reveal that the number of injuries and fatalities has fallen by half in the past two decades. Safety measures are also not a guarantee against accidents. The crossings in New York and California that had fatal collisions earlier this year both had lights and gates.

The Law Firm of Flora Templeton Stuart helps clients with auto wrecks, semi-truck accidents and other personal injury cases. Please contact us today at (888)782-9090 for a free consultation. We have offices in Bowling Green and Glasgow, and we serve clients throughout Kentucky and Tennessee.