Our attorneys cannot stress enough that railroad tracks and train crossings are places in which we should never cease to be vigilant and safe. These are never locations where our attention can slip or where we can bend the rules. When motorists and pedestrians act negligently near railroad tracks or crossings they endanger the lives of themselves and others around them and serious accidents can occur. Trains always have the right of way at these designated crossings and cannot stop quickly, even in the case of an emergency, because they travel at high speeds. If lights are flashing and gates are down, this means a train is near and motorists should use caution.
Even through frequent safety campaigns, warning signs posted, and laws on the books, train accidents unfortunately still frequently happen when people are negligent and ignore the rules. In a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a semitrailer blocked railroad tracks and was struck by an oncoming Chicago bound Amtrak train in southwest Wilmington, located 14 miles south of the Joliet train station. As a result of the collision, 10 people were taken to area hospitals, according to Wilmington police. Due to the impact of the collision, the train’s cargo of 70,000 pounds of bacon was strewn across the ground near the tracks. The truck’s cab also separated from the trailer and ended up on the other side of the train. Twenty minutes after the accident occurred, passengers were told to leave the train and learned about the accident.
The Commercial Transportation Law, under the Illinois Commerce Commission, establishes safety requirements for track, facilities, and equipment of the railroads. Unfortunately, Chicagoland train accidents are far too common, according to a map and statistics provide by the Illinois Commerce Commission. For example, in Cook County alone, updated as of January 2015, there have been 254 collisions between 2009 – 2014. These are 37.7% of all collisions in the state in this same time period. Just in Cook County there are 2570 railroad crossings too. The crossings compose 17.% of all crossings in the state. The accident discussed above occurred in Wilmington, which is located in Will County, which is the county that borders Cook to the South. Will County has 317 total crossings, which comprise 2.2% of the crossings in Illinois. From 2009 – 2014, there were 18 collisions, which accounted for 2.7% of total collisions.
Our attorneys represent clients throughout the state involved in truck and train accidents, and have witnessed the devastation that these accidents may cause . Negligence is far too common on our roads, and is something that should never occur around train crossings and railroads. We believe that lawsuits against negligent wrongdoers help to raise awareness surrounding railroad safety thereby helping to decrease the amount of accidents in the future by setting a legal example, thereby making our roads all the safer.