As you have seen on our blogs and in the news, practicing safety around trains and train tracks is always important to protect yourself and your loves ones from suffering serious personal injuries. Railroad operators are also obligated to take safety measures to protect drivers and pedestrians who are nearby tracks safe and to ensure they remain aware of any oncoming or existing dangers. Oftentimes, this includes gates, signs, or other warnings near crossings. However, we find it noteworthy and important to consider the legal consequences of when a crossing does not consist of any such safety warnings. What if someone crossing the tracks is not put on alert?
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a delivery truck driver was killed upon colliding with a train along Illinois Route 15. The accident occurred when the truck crossed the tracks into the path of the train. The driver was thrown from the truck and died at the scene of the accident. The train engineer told the police that the truck driver did not seem to notice the oncoming train nor hear its whistle. The particular train crossing did not have a gate, sign, or lights.
In this case, it is undetermined whether there was any negligence on the case of either the railroad or the driver. It is worth considering though whether the truck driver would still be alive if there had been crossing gates or lights. On the flipside though, was this truck driver distracted or overly tired where he would not have noticed the oncoming train with or without additional warnings? Would additional barriers have prevented him from crossing, or did the railroad do all that they could in this situation to prevent injury and death?
The Illinois Commerce Commission, through its Operation Lifesaver program, offers interesting statistics to make Illinois citizens aware of the dangers that trains can pose. It is important that railroads and citizens alike abide by laws because 333 million vehicles cross railroad tracks every day. That is why it is so important that authorities enforce railroad safety laws so that they are not ignored by trains, pedestrians, and motorists. In 2012 alone, 270 people were killed at highway-rail grade crossing collisions, and 442 people were killed trespassing on railroad property. Furthermore, 50% of vehicle-train collisions occurred at crossings with operating warning devices. These statistics show that when safety precautions are in place and adhered to by railroads and people that accidents can be prevented and lives can be saved.
Our Chicago attorneys stress that practicing extreme caution when driving or walking close to railroad tracks is important and vital to save lives, especially since Illinois is a center for interstate train transportation with thousands of miles of train tracks. Whether you are a pedestrian or small car, or even a larger truck like in this instance, train collisions are highly dangerous and often deadly. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a train collision, and you believe it was due to the negligence of another, you may have a legal claim. Call our law firm today, and we may be able to help you decide if a lawsuit is the right course of action for you to take.