Two days ago, our Chicago auto accident lawyers read on the Chicago Tribune online about a fatal train-car collision in Palatine. According to the report, a man drove around the railroad crossing gates, and his vehicle was struck by a Metra train. The driver was killed in the collision.
In light of this tragic accident, our Illinois auto accident attorneys thought that it would be beneficial to discuss safety when it comes to crossing railroad tracks. According to MyStateLine.com, Illinois has the second-highest number of railroad crossing related accidents nationally. This is due to the fact that there are so many trains in the Chicagoland area, including commuter trains, local trains and freight trains.
In elementary school, everyone learns to “Stop. Look. Listen” and “Look. Listen. Live!” for trains. These phrases may lose emphasis as people get older, but they are a good reminder to prevent you from being seriously injured by a train. Stopping is crucial before crossing tracks, because it gives you the opportunity to look both ways to scout any oncoming trains. Listening is equally as important because sometimes a train may not be visible, but it can be heard and visa versa.
The Illinois State University Police‘s website presents some common causes of railroad crossing collisions, including:
• Drivers misjudging how fast and how close the train is
• Drivers racing the train instead of waiting • Crossing after one train passes, but not double checking for another train in the opposite direction • Driver distraction
Drivers should always be alert around railroad crossings and look for the yellow and black RR sign when nearing tracks. Trains come often, and at unexpected times, so it is important for drivers to anticipate anything and everything. Also, if the driver has started crossing the tracks as the gate goes down, keep going, and don’t stop once you’ve started. Drivers should never cross the tracks until there is enough clearance for them to get through, meaning that in traffic, cars should not sit on the tracks. And as illustrated by the accident above, drivers should never go around the gate or try to beat the gate. This dangerous and avoidable practice happens all too often, and in many cases the consequences are deadly.
From the perspective of a Chicago car accident attorney, most serious train-car accidents can be prevented if drivers put safety first when operating their vehicles in or around Chicago area railroad crossings. We hope that this tragedy will remind readers of the true dangers involved in railroad crossings in order to prevent accidents involving serious personal injuries or fatalities.