Railroad Crossings Can Prove Hazardous for Drivers in Missouri & Nationwide

March 23, 2012, by Aaron Sachs & Associates, P. C.

777628_railroad_crossing.jpgOur Kansas City car accident attorneys understand that railroad crossing accidents oftentimes produce fatal results. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, trains and cars collide every 12 minutes. There were more than 9,500 accidents involving trains and motor vehicles in 2009. Many of these accidents could have been avoided with the proper precautionary steps.

In the 2009 accidents, there were nearly 700 people killed and almost 6,700 people injured. More than 95% of the fatalities resulting from train accidents occurred through highway-rail incidents and during trespassing. There were more than 200 incidents reported during the year of a motor-vehicle accident with a train. These incidents killed more than 190 people.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to these serious accidents. Some of these factors include train operator negligence, defective train tracks or crossing equipment and brake malfunctions. Human errors, including trespassing and fatigued train drivers contribute to approximately 35 percent of all incidents. Defects with the tracks contributed to about 34 percent.

The average-sized train weighs roughly 12 million pounds. In comparison to an average-sized motor vehicle, your car is more like a soda can and can be crushed instantly upon impact. It takes about a mile for the average 100-car train traveling at 50 mph to stop.

It is estimated that more than 330 million vehicles cross over railroad tracks every day. As a matter of fact, you are 40 times more likely to die in an accident with a train than you are to die in an accident with another motor vehicle. According to recent statistics, the number of fatalities that occurred at railroad crossings in Missouri dipped in 2006, increased in 2007 and then increased even more in 2008.

"With more than 4,000 miles of railroad track, 3,800 public crossings and 3,000 private crossings, rail safety is an important issue in Missouri," said Rod Massman, Missouri Department of Transportation's (MoDOT) administrator of railroads. "We are stepping up our efforts to educate motorists about rail safety to reduce injuries and save lives."

MoDOT offers these safety tips for motorists near railroad crossings:

• Do not drive under or around lowered gates. It's illegal and very dangerous!

• Never stop your vehicle on train tracks. A train is three feet wider than the tracks on each side. Never stop within 15 feet of the tracks.

• Always keep an eye out for a second train crossing.

• Always expect a train to cross. Most do not run on definitive schedules.

• Remember that trains are unable to stop quickly.

• Remember that trains move faster than you may think. Never race a train.

If you or someone you love has been involved in an auto accident in Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Blue Springs, Greenwood, or elsewhere in Missouri, contact the personal injury lawyers of Aaron Sachs & Associates for a free initial consultation. You can reach us by calling 1-888-777-AUTO, or by visiting our website.

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