Most people driving on the road don’t take the risk of train accidents very seriously. These accidents seem easy enough to avoid, and for the most part that’s true. Somehow, however, there are still many collisions every year, and these accidents have the potential to cause hundreds of deaths.
According to the US Department of Transportation, approximately 600 people are killed in train accidents each year. An additional 2,300 people are injured. There are approximately 5,800 train accidents every year in the United States. More than 15% of derailment accidents are caused by broken rails, making this the most common cause of train accidents.
Rail safety should be a priority for every driver on the road and everyone who rides on the train as a passenger. There are many different things that can go wrong and that regularly do go wrong every year in Illinois.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the single largest cause of train derailments, which are some of the most dangerous train accidents, is a failure in the track itself. A broken rail or a poorly welded spot can throw a train off its track and cause a lot of fatalities.
Railroads are a public resource that needs to be well-maintained to provide safe conditions for train passengers across the country. Routine inspections and repairs are the keys to a safe running system.
Malfunctions at Stations and Crossings
A lot of train accidents also occur because of disrepair or technical mistakes beyond the rail itself. Many drivers rely on railroad crossing gates and other warning systems to let them know when a train is coming, but these systems aren’t always reliable. There is no substitute for staying alert.
Even when traffic is backed up, drivers should never stop and wait in the middle of the railroad tracks. Idling on the tracks can be incredibly dangerous, as you might not have time to move when you see the train coming.
Computer errors at rail stations can also lead to dangerous situations where the passengers are loading or at the entrance and exit to the station. If there isn’t sufficient communication about which trains are coming, a collision could occur.
Ignoring Signs and Warnings
Human error is another inevitable cause of many train collisions and derailments. Many drivers fail to watch out for trains or even choose to risk danger simply to get somewhere faster. They may see the train coming but decide to cross anyway rather than wait until it’s safe.
Some states have added extra gates on certain railroad crossings to discourage drivers from trying to drive around the gates to get across the tracks before the train comes. Getting to your destination quickly is never important enough to risk your safety and that of your family.
A lot of train collisions caused by drivers may also occur because of limited visibility. Sometimes trees or other obstacles block drivers’ vision around the tracks, which can lead to rash decisions by drivers who don’t watch out for trains.
Another way that human error causes problems is when the train engineers themselves fail to pay attention or notice something happening. If the engineer is alert, they may be able to stop in an emergency to avoid a collision.
If the engineer isn’t paying attention, however, they may be more likely to collide with cars, people, or even other trains. Careless engineers at train stations can lead to passenger injuries as well.
Make Safety Your First Priority
While train collisions and injuries do happen, it is still a very safe mode of transportation. If you’re a driver sharing railroad crossings with trains, all you have to do is take care and don’t hurry when you’re crossing the tracks. Slow down, look both ways, and play it safe.
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This article is a collaboration with a freelance writer and follows The Haitian Times publishing guidelines