Train crossings built for much slower trains
The Southern Transcon line of train tracks where the deadly Amtrak derailment happened on June 27, 2022 was completed in 1908. Trains of that early 20th Century era travelled at approximately 40-60 miles per hour, so people who needed to drive across in rural locations had a reasonable amount of time to see the train approaching and cross safely - even if they were driving heavy, slow farm equipment. Fast forward a hundred years, and trains travel at increasingly faster speeds due to technology and the human need for speed, yet rural “uncontrolled” intersections typically have only a stop sign and no lights or crossing gates - and have become increasingly more dangerous.
According to news reports, early data shows the Amtrak train was traveling up to 90 miles per hour that day when it struck a dump truck on the tracks. Witnesses say the dump truck was carrying boulders and large rocks to a nearby water levy project. Three people died - including the driver of that truck - and more than 50 people were injured. A farmer from the town of Mendon, Missouri where the tragedy took place told reporters the crossing “doesn’t give you much time to cross, and if you make a mistake you have the potential for this happening.”
This accident was not the only one of its kind, with a similar Amtrak accident at rural and uncontrolled crossing in Brentwood, California killing three people in a car driving across the tracks just three days earlier.
And the list continues, as the majority of train crossings in the United States do not have a warning or safety device, according to the Department of Transportation.
The future is fast
As rail travel modernizes to become an eco-friendly alternative to truck transport, airline prices rise and technology evolves to make high-speed train travel a reality in the United States, these simple crossings with only a stop sign as a safety measure are relics of a time gone by. They are not sufficient to keep people safe in their vehicles or on the trains.
It is time to modernize every one of these crossings nationwide and to have them reflect the risks and realities of current train travel as well as build in the assumption that even greater speeds are coming in the future. Recent federal infrastructure funding makes some progress to this end but is not sufficient for what the nation truly needs.
This rail system overhaul is important for human safety as well as to maintain the rail system and all of its benefits to our economy. And to save lives, it is simply the right thing to do.
Join us to improve these crossings
At Romanucci & Blandin we pride ourselves in going the extra mile and advocating for change in our communities even after we reach a verdict or settlement in our clients’ cases. We urge others to join us in being drivers of this infrastructure change, which let’s say it, may seem counter intuitive for personal injury lawyers because it would mean fewer accidents and fewer cases, but we live in these communities too and have family and loved ones who cross the tracks every day.
With all of the complex social problems in America right now we can all agree on the basics of road, train and human safety. Upgrade these uncontrolled train crossings. Please reach out to our team if you would like to join us in this important work.
To learn more about legal options in train accidents please visit https://www.rblaw.net/practices-train-accidents.
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