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Train Accident Highlights Railroad Crossing Safety in Alabama

Nov 12, 2013 - Personal Injury by

Officials with the Tuscaloosa Fire Department’s Haz Mat team recently responded to a train fire in Pickensville. Emergency response teams worked to disconnect the train cars that were on fire. According to ABC33, there were at least five or six cars involved in the blaze. The train was carrying crude oil and officials reported at least two explosions. A dozen cars were derailed in the accident. Officials let those cars burn out, instead of trying to put them out.
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While train accidents can be devastating when trains derail or collide with one another, they can be even more devastating when they collide with passenger vehicles or even pedestrians and bicyclists.

Our Tuscaloosa personal injury lawyers understand that railroad crossing safety rarely gets the attention it deserves. And unfortunately, they’re alarmingly common. In many cases, these crossings do not have adequate warnings. In other cases, the equipment may be dated or even inoperative. Operation Lifesaver reports that there were close to 2,000 railroad crossing accidents reported in the U.S. in 2012. There were nearly 300 people killed and another 950 who were seriously injured. In all, there are over 210,000 railroad crossings currently in the U.S. and more than 129,000 intersect with public roads.

Each state receives an allocation of federal safety funds for grade crossing installation and improvements. But are they using these funds to the best of their abilities? In addition, states also determine the location and type of grade crossing signal to be installed. These decisions are based on factors such as average daily motor vehicle traffic, train volume, speeds, and accident history.

In 1994 the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration along with the railroad industry established a goal to reduce grade crossing fatalities by 50% over the next decade. Incidentally in 1994, 626 fatalities were reported. According to the data received from the railroads, the number of collisions declined by 39% and the number of fatalities fell 47% to 334 in 2003. But we’re still seeing hundreds of fatalities each and every year, so our work is far from over.

Highway-Railroad Crossing Accident Statistics:

-Close to 65 percent of accidents happen during the daylight hours.

-About a quarter of these kinds of accidents happen when a vehicle runs into a train.

-Most train accidents happen when a train is traveling under 35 miles per hour.

-Most of these accidents happen within 25 miles of the driver’s home.

-About half of all crashes occur at crossings equipped with automatic warning devices.

-A 100-car freight train that is traveling at 55 miles per hour may take over a mile to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. If you’re stuck on the tracks, there’s not a good chance of escaping the danger of an oncoming train.

-Death is roughly 40 times more likely in an accident involving a train, than in an accident that involves another motor vehicle.

More Blog Entries:

Alabama Railroad Accidents Still a Potential Safety Risk, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, October 3, 2013
High School Senior Dies in Alabama Car Accident at Railroad Crossing, Alabama Injury Attorneys Blog, May 20, 2011

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