About every three hours in the US, a train collides with a vehicle or a person. Any time this happens, its news. Trains are capable of killing a driver or pedestrian even when they aren’t traveling at a high speed. In Indiana, these incidents are becoming more common and can present complex challenges for both victims of railroad accidents and the railroad companies.
In August of 2015, a 17-year-old high school student, Christopher Prater, was struck and killed by a train in his home county of Kosciusko, Indiana. This tragedy is one of the hundreds of train-related deaths that occur in Indiana each year. Northern Indiana is especially hard-hit by these incidents, as their railways are some of the busiest in the country, moving freight in and out of Chicago. Often these incidents are made even more painful because the danger was recognized and ignored by the railroads.
Automobiles are also regularly hit by moving trains, and it’s important to understand why. Every railroad crossing has a sign, but busier intersections should have lights, arms, or bells. In many situations, the lights may not be working, or the arm may not go down. The railroad company should evaluate intersections regularly, especially for how busy they are, and it should be determined whether an arm is necessary, but this doesn’t always happen.
Train conductors are also required to slow to a specific speed when they travel through areas with regular intersections, as well as use the horn properly to alert any drivers or pedestrians to their existence.
More than that, though, conductors are responsible for every person on a passenger train. In the case of serious derailments, like the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, speed often plays a serious factor. In that case, the train was traveling at 102 miles per hour in an area rated for no more than 50 miles per hour.
Trains are an important part of transit in our country, but it’s very important that they be held to a standard of safety that prevents injuries to travelers and pedestrians.
Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident? Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has an experienced team of car accident attorneys who can help you explore your options.