Railroad Crossings in Charlotte, Elsewhere a Danger for Motorists and Pedestrians Involved in Train Accidents

A recent railroad crossing accident in Charlotte has us mindful that not only are crossings dangerous for car passengers but train operators have little or no time to stop and avoid a pedestrian spotted along the tracks.

WBTV reports a man was killed near the railroad crossing at Archdale Drive by a freight train when he was attending a memorial where his son died five years ago. The train operator attempted to stop the train but was unable to avoid the collision.
Accident attorneys in Asheville and Charlotte know that trains are and that far too many rail accidents are occurring throughout the United States because rail crossings are not marked properly, safety gates are not maintained, or a locomotive is too big to stop in time to avoid a collision.

The Federal Railroad Administration reported over 7,000 accidents nationwide at railroad crossings from 2007 to 2010. These accidents resulted in 873 lives lost. In 2010, FRA reported 628 train accidents caused by human factors nationwide; 666 accidents caused by track-related issues; and 246 accidents were caused by equipment failure. Through May of this year, North Carolina has reported 6 fatalities in all train incidents and South Carolina has reported 3 deaths in all train accidents or incidents.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation Rail Division reports there are over 3,700 open public at-grade crossings in the state. Of these, only seven are equipped with traffic signals while 1,988 contain flashing light signals and gates and 1,291 are equipped with crossbuck or other signs which are often meant for yielding, not stopping at an intersection.

Though North and South Carolina are not in the top 10 deadliest states required by the federal government to improve railroad crossing safety as reported in the Chicago Tribune last month, many states are now considering the dangers at railroad crossings.

As part of the Rail-Highway Grade Crossing Improvement Program, South Carolina is targeting railroad safety following the death of a woman who died in a tragic accident earlier this year.

The Times and Democrat reports that South Carolina officials will receive more than $200,000 per each of three rail crossings to improve safety. The South Carolina Department of Transportation has allotted $201,496 for gates at the State A&M crossing, $220,380 will be used for gates at the crossing on Sellers Avenue and $207,542 is set aside for gates and flashing lights at the Bair Road crossing in Calhoun County. South Carolina receives approximately $4 million a year from the federal government meant for improving rail crossing upgrades at roughly 2,650 public rail crossings located throughout the state.

Motorists and pedestrians are reminded of these simple tips:

  • Only cross over a track if you are sure you can make it to the other side safely.
  • If a railroad crossing is not equipped with flashing lights and gates, look and listen before you cross.
  • Trains may travel from either direction so look both ways before you cross and expect multiple trains when several tracks are located at the same crossing intersection.

If you have been injured in a train accident in North or South Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Funeral details for man hit and killed by freight train in Charlotte, by Kristin Cronenberger, WBTV

Illinois among states ordered to improved rail crossing safety, by Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune

Distracted Truck Drivers Lead to Deadly Incidents at North Carolina Railroad Crossings, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 5, 2011

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