Railroad Grade Crossing Collisions
Our law firm has represented many families who have suffered the death of a loved one killed by trains at railroad crossings. The railroad industry continues to blame motorists in 100% of cases using the mantra, “Stop, Look, & Listen.” However, the general public is unaware that many railroad crossings are so badly designed, by way of insufficient signage, over grown vegetation at the crossing, and dangerously short sight distances, that these crossings constitute dangerous traps. At these crossings, even a reasonably careful motorist has insufficient time to react to an on-coming train.
The railroad industry on the other hand, is fully aware of the risks posed by railroad crossings that are unprotected by automatic gates and flashing lights. In fact, the American Association of Railroads [“AAR”] has known, and publically admitted, that improving crossings with gates and lights will save lives. As recently as 2011, the AAR, after completing a 4 year study, determined that gates at railroad crossings cut the accident and fatality rates by 93%. Yet, the railroad industry refuses to proactively protect these crossings. Instead, the industry waits for accidents to occur at the crossing, and then reactively makes the right safety choices after the damage has been done and lives are ruined.
Though railroad officials never admit the danger, the train crews employed by the railroad overwhelmingly support safety improvements at grade crossings. Train crews want these safety measures because these grade crossings are their workplace. A badly designed railroad crossing can be just as dangerous for a train crew as it is for the traveling public.
Railroad crossing cases are difficult because they quite often involve fatalities. Also, the railroad industry has made sure that state traffic laws are written to place 100% blame on motorists. To protect the public, a broader analysis must be taken. This analysis must include the railroad industry’s moral duty to make improvements to railroad crossings using cost-effective and feasible safety measures.
If you or a family member has been injured in a crossing accident, please call now for a thorough case evaluation.
*AAR Analysis of FRA Grade Crossing Incident & Inventory Databases, using 1999-2003 incident data and the December 2003 Inventory data.