The Chicago area is a major hub for train travel. Throughout all of Illinois, there are hundreds of passenger and freight trains moving about the state every day. Since many of our readers are commuters, or drivers who travel frequently near train tracks, our Illinois car accident lawyers thought that it would be beneficial to discuss train and railroad-crossing safety. Whether you are a pedestrian or a driver who is crossing train tracks, there is always a significant risk for a serious accident with a train to occur. The Minnesota Public Radio online posted an article related to several pedestrian fatalities when crossing train tracks. The article states that, “on average, 12 people or vehicles are struck by a train each day in the United States.” MPR reports that pedestrian-train accidents occur because people are in a hurry and try to beat the train across the tracks to save a few seconds. The same can be said for rushed drivers who attempt to drive around gates.
Another cause for train related accidents are distractions. When pedestrians and drivers are distracted by their cell phones, radios, social media, or simply being unaware of their surroundings, they may not see or hear the train coming because their minds are elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why our Chicago accident lawyers believe that it is crucial for everyone on the road- pedestrians and drivers alike- to always stay alert and aware when on the road, especially near train tracks.
As with any safety initiative, some of the best ways to prevent these types of accidents is through public awareness and education. People are typically unaware of how quickly trains really do move, leaving only twenty seconds between the gate going down and the lights going on. Furthermore, people do not realize that even if the train is able to see a pedestrian or vehicle in advance, that same twenty seconds wouldn’t give a train enough time to stop. The best way to avoid being in this type of accident is to be alert when nearing a railroad crossing, and do not think that you can beat the train across the tracks. This thinking is dangerous, and leads to severe injuries and even death.
According to DiscoverLivesTeam.com there are several types of railroad track signals that all drivers and pedestrians should be aware of. The first is the full stop. This signal is when the red lights are on, and the gate is fully down. Another important signal to be aware of is the proceed signal. In this signal, the light is green, and the gate is up, which means that it is safe to cross. And lastly, there is the caution signal. This is when the light is yellow and the gate is coming down. Railroad crossings usually have heavy signage nearby to caution driver that there are railroad tracks close by. When pedestrians or drivers see these signs, they should remain alert to avoid any sort of collision with a train. With this being said, sometimes gates and lights malfunction, so the driver or pedestrian should listen for the train coming, and make the safest decision of stopping and waiting for the train to pass by.
Our Chicago car accident lawyers hope that our readers will take railroad safety seriously to avoid being involved in an accident with serious injuries. We always hear news accounts of people who try to beat the train or ignore warning signals, and due to the sheer size of trains, in most instances the negligent pedestrians or drivers suffer serious injuries. It is always best to play it safe and remain patient to protect yourself and others who sharing roadways and railways.