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NYC Train Accident Causes and Prevention

NYC Train Accident Causes and Prevention

New York City is full of railroads. Traditional railroads carry cargo in and out of the city, and the subway is a major mode of public transportation. While these railways are a very important part of the economy, they are not always safe. Train accidents are very common in NYC and when they do occur, people can become seriously injured. Sometimes, these crashes even result in wrongful death. Due to the frequency with which train accidents occur, it is important that everyone knows what causes these crashes and how to avoid them.

Stats on Train Accidents

In 2019 alone, nearly 900 people died as a result of train accidents. According to the National Safety Council, fatalities at railroad crossings are higher than they have been over the past 13 years. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration reported in 2019 that motorists are 20 times more likely to be killed in a train accident than in a crash with any other type of vehicle. There are many different causes of these crashes, but the most common are a lack of warning devices and human error.

Types of Railroad Crossings

Railroad crossings refer to any point where a railroad intersects with a roadway, but there are different types. Protected railroad crossings have sufficient warning systems, including lights and gates, to warn motorists and others of the crossing. Most railroad crossings are not protected and in fact, only 20 percent of the crossings in the entire country are considered protected.

Unprotected crossings, on the other hand, do not have any warning systems or indicators. The majority of railroad crossings in the country are of this type. Data from the National Transportation Safety Board shows that more than half of fatal accidents occur at unprotected crossings. Clearly, this data shows a strong correlation between the use of properly working warning systems and the prevention of train accidents.

Common Causes of NYC Railroad Accidents

Accidents that occur at railroad crossings are devastating, and they leave victims to deal with serious injuries. In the most serious crashes, victims do not survive. It is important that everyone knows the most common causes of railroad crossing accidents so they can be prevented.

  • Train operator error: Train operators are responsible for driving the vehicle in a manner that keeps passengers and anyone around the train safe. Operating a train under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding excessively, or driving a train while distracted are some of the most common causes of train accidents.
  • Improper warning systems: When a railroad crossing has properly working arms, alarms, and flashing lights, there is much less risk that the train will be involved in a crash. Owners of trains, as well as government entities, are responsible for ensuring warning systems are in place, and that they are properly maintained.
  • Malfunctioning equipment: There are many moving parts on a train and they must all work safely and effectively. Any time a piece of this equipment malfunctions, it can cause a serious crash resulting in injuries and death.
  • Obstructed crossings: Even when a railroad crossing has the appropriate warning systems, arms, and rails, they are not always easy to see. If a crossing becomes obstructed by overgrown trees, parked trains, or anything else, motorists and pedestrians may not notice the crossing until it is too late and they are involved in an accident.
  • Reckless driving: Unfortunately, train accidents are not always caused by negligent train operators or owners. Motorists can cause a train accident as well, particularly if they are driving recklessly.

It is important to determine the exact cause of any train accident, so victims know which party to hold liable for paying full damages. Sadly, determining what caused a crash is not always so easy.

Determining Liability After a Train Accident

There are a number of parties that can be found liable for a train accident, but it will ultimately depend on what caused the crash. Potentially liable parties may include:

  • The train company: The company that operates the train has a responsibility to make sure the train is operated by a knowledgeable and experienced staff.
  • Maintenance company: The company that is responsible for maintaining the train tracks or the train must ensure all equipment is in proper working condition.
  • Government entities: Municipal governments are generally responsible for ensuring crossing gates are properly erected and that the appropriate warning signals are installed and maintained.

Preventing Train Accidents

It is crucial for all motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers to know the necessary steps that could prevent a train accident. These prevention tips include:

  • Railroad crossings pose a high risk of danger, so it is important to always slow down when approaching one.
  • When approaching a railroad crossing, look and listen to what is happening around you to ensure a train is not on the tracks.
  • Never attempt to cross railroad tracks when the warning lights or signals are active. Always wait for the warning signals to stop before proceeding across the tracks.
  • Keep your vehicle well back from a railroad crossing when a train is passing by. The majority of trains extend up to three feet beyond the tracks.
  • Never try to move your vehicle until the arms have raised and the warning signals have stopped.
  • If you see a train approaching, never try to cross the tracks. It is very challenging to determine how fast a train is going, or even where it is on the tracks. Always allow the train to pass first, and then move your vehicle.

Although the above steps are very important, they are unfortunately not always enough. When that is the case and a crash occurs, it is important to speak to a lawyer that can help you claim the damages you deserve.

Call Our Train Accident Lawyer in NYC Today

If you or someone you love has been involved in a train crash, our NYC train accident lawyer at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. can advise you of your legal options. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.