In 2015, 967 people were injured—either as drivers, passengers, or pedestrians—in train accidents at railroad crossings. An additional 244 were killed. That means 1 in 5 victims of railroad crossing accidents suffer fatal injuries. NHTSA car accident statistics paired with the Federal Railroad Administration statistics reveal that “a motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than...with another motor vehicle.”
The Cause of Railroad Crossing Accidents
The ability to avoid train accidents is often the driver’s responsibility, as trains cannot change speed or direction in enough time to avoid imminent collisions; however, that doesn’t mean every railroad crossing accident is the driver’s fault. In some cases, the design of the crossing itself is the deciding factor. In this case and many others, it is railroad companies that are at fault for the harm suffered by motorists.
If trains require over a mile in order to brake, then crossings should give conductors a mile of clearance. More practically, every crossing should have a warning system for drivers well before the train is in sight. Although railroad almost always have the right of way, there are times when a crossing may be deemed a unique and local safety hazard; thus requiring the railroad to take additional steps to safeguard motorists.
- Federal regulations would require additional warnings
- Sight distances or visibility are reduced at the crossing
- There are intersections with other roads near the crossing
- There is visual clutter at the crossing
- There had been prior accidents at the crossing
Protected vs. Passive Crossing
Trains often intersect with roadways. In fact, there are 250,000+ roadway and railroad crossings across the country, of which nearly 96% of all accidents occur on. Nearly 62,500 of these crossings do not have a light or gates.
Figures from the National Transportation Safety Board state that approximately 60% of all railroad crossing fatalities occur at “unprotected” or passive crossings. Passive crossings are those with no more than a railroad crossing sign. The statistics also state that “protected crossings,” those crossings with warning devices such as lights and gates, represent only 20% of the public railroad crossings in the U.S.
If you were harmed in a crossing accident, contact Arnold & Itkin at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation. We’ve won billions for our clients, including numerous train accident victims. Share your story with us.