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Semi-trailers and Cars Attempt to Beat Chicago Trains

ABC 7 News examined the risks that car and truck drivers take every day in the Chicago area while attempting to drive in front of local Metra trains.

The problem seems to be growing this year. Train operators note that total train accident deaths in just the first five months of 2010 are almost the total for the entire year in 2009. With a 1,000-ton train traveling down the track at 70 miles per hour, there is almost no such thing as a “minor” train accident. Each incident is extremely costly.

Yet, car divers, truck drivers, and pedestrians still often refuse to wait for a train to pass at a crossing-willing to take the risk while trying to dart in front of an oncoming train. The investigation noted that the risk is higher during rush hours and in construction zones. Drivers seem ever more impatient at those times and locations, willing to risk more. At one location on the test ride, investigators noticed the tail end of a semi stopped on the tracks while a train moved toward it. The semi was able to get out of the way with only seconds to spare. Train engineers report that those close calls occur every single day.

Our Chicago truck accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti understand the extreme risk any driver, especially truckers, take when attempting to beat a speeding train. The perception of the driver when on the road and staring down a track is often dangerously skewed. It is impossible to know exactly how fast a train is going, how long it will take to arrive at the crossing, and how long it will take the vehicle to drive across the danger area. This is even truer for semi-trucks, which have long beds to get across the track zone. Under no circumstances is the small time savings worth the risk of damage and death that comes with a train accident.