Spike in Houston Metro Rail Crashes Highlights Safety Concerns
After a recent spike in Metro rail crashes in Houston, officials are investigating the causes of the crashes to determine how to improve safety along the rail lines. The rail lines operate on street level and connect business districts such as the Medical Center with Downtown Houston. Critics have often argued that having street level rail that shares the street (and in some places, shares a lane) with cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians is simply an accident waiting to happen.
Record Number Of Crashes In June
In June, Metro recorded 17 crashes, the most in any single month since the rail opened in 2004. The vast majority of the accidents (13) involved vehicles, while the others involved pedestrians or bicyclists. In the decade plus of the rail line’s existence, it was only the third time that the number of total accidents in a month reached double digits. In total, there have been 123 accidents over the last two years – more than 5 per month on average.
What Is Causing Metro Crashes?
Many of the crashes with vehicles are blamed on cars making illegal turns over the rail tracks. Even so, one Metro official noted that at least three of the accidents in June could have been avoided had the Metro conductor acted differently. For example, in one incident in which an ambulance turned in front of a train, the train was operating at a speed higher than the maximum limit for that area.
Areas such as the Medical Center are more prone to Metro accidents involving cars because many of the visitors are unfamiliar with driving in the area and not used to sharing the road with a train. Combined with the numerous garage entrances and exits that have limited visibility, it becomes a challenging place to operate.
Accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists usually occur because the person walked over or onto the tracks unaware that the train was approaching.
Safety Measures In Place To Avoid Accidents
In order to reduce the number of accidents, Metro officials have implemented safety measures, such as:
- Reducing train speeds in high traffic areas
- Increasing the length of warning alerts at crossing gates
- Enclosing the rail line with fencing where feasible
- Slightly elevating new sections of the track to prevent vehicles from turning on to it
Have You Been Injured In A Metro Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. However, it is important to act quickly. Prior to filing a lawsuit, you are required to provide notice of a claim. Additionally, most claims may be subject to a cap on damages. In order to determine your legal options, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your potential claim.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation evaluation of your claim.