Articles Posted in Railroad Safety

Investigators in New York are working to piece together what happened in a fatal Metro-North Railroad crash that killed six people and injured more than a dozen in a suburb of New York City when a train collided with a sport-utility vehicle on the tracks.
It was the deadliest train crash in the country recent memory, though it is far from the only one.

In December, an Amtrak passenger train in Mebane struck a minivan that was in its path, resulting in the death of the 80-year-old driver after the vehicle was pushed roughly two blocks before the train could stop. Witnesses said they saw the woman on the track and tried to get her to move her car, but she reportedly panicked and could not get the vehicle in motion fast enough. There had been two prior accidents at that very same crossing in the last three years.
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According to North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, a vehicle or person is hit by a train approximately every three hours in the United States. Statesville car accident attorneys know that locomotives are big and powerful machines that can easily crush a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist who gets in their path. Ensuring that railroad crossings are marked accordingly or that flashing lights and swing arms are functioning properly becomes an important part in keeping anyone who crosses the tracks safe and uninjured.
In 2010, there were almost 50 incidents of railroad crossing accidents in Hickory and throughout the state that resulted in one fatality. South Carolina reported 50 railroad crossing accidents last year but five people lost their lives after being hit by a train in 2010. Nationwide, there were a total of 2,004 collisions on a highway-rail grade crossing in 2010. reports that Operation Lifesaver and South Carolina Highway Patrol recently performed a demonstration and training exercise about railroad crossing safety. A car was left sitting idle with a dummy in the driver’s seat on a railroad crossing in Darlington. Upon impact with the low-speed train traveling at 10 mph, the car was pushed down the tracks approximately 120 yards. Emergency responders, fire rescuers, railway officials and SCHP’s Collision Reconstruction Team witnessed the event in hopes of learning the dynamics of a crash, as well as how dangerous crossings are.

In viewing the demonstration with knowledge of the variables involved, it can be determined if any changes need to be made for future emergency responses to a railroad-crossing collision. In most cases, a train is traveling at 55 mph so it can be concluded that it can take a stretch as long as a mile to get the train stopped in an emergency situation. It is almost inevitable that a crash will occur due to the size and speed of a locomotive not getting stopped in time.

The Rail division at the North Carolina Department of Transportation offers these rail tips to motorists, pedestrians and rail passengers:

-Never attempt to go through a crossing when railroad stop arms are down or lights are flashing.

-Be alert for trains throughout all parts of the day.

-When walking, only cross tracks at designated areas.

-No fishing or bungee jumping should take place from railroad trestles.

-Walking along a railroad track is dangerous and should be avoided.

-Never try to get on a rail car or locomotive while the train is moving.

-Stand away from the tracks while waiting on a platform for the train to arrive.

-If a train is in motion, hang on as you move about the cabin, especially if you are trying to cross over to the next car.

-If the train doors close, wait for the next train to arrive rather than try to pry or hold the doors open.

-In case of an emergency call 911 or get the conductor’s attention.

Railroad crossings are particularly dangerous for motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists who become distracted. Always focus on the intersection and make sure it is safe before you cross. Remember, it is not uncommon for several trains to be running at multiple lane crossings so expect other trains to follow when you stop for the first approaching train.
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