The Illinois Department of Transportation has recently asked for $200 million in federal grants to fund a project to make Illinois railroads safer. The money would go toward three separate efforts to ease congestion around busy railroad crossings, and make the roads easier for drivers to navigate. New overpasses or underpasses would create grade separation crossings, meaning that cars would no longer have to wait while a train goes by.
Aside from easing congestion, these railway changes would likely reduce car accidents as well. One major danger of any railroad crossing, no matter how well marked or how little traveled, is the potential for a car vs train accident. These often deadly accidents occur when a car is on the tracks in the path of the train. The resulting collision can do damage to the train engine, but almost always destroys the car due to its smaller size and weight.
What Are the Dangers of Car vs Train Accidents?
If you are a licensed driver, you have probably been caught at a railroad crossing at least once in your driving career. Depending on where it was, you may have had to wait only a few minutes while ten or fifteen train cars rumbled by. In all likelihood, however, you probably had to wait much longer, counting dozens of cars. A line of other vehicles probably formed behind you, and some people may have even pulled into nearby parking lots to turn around and find a different route unimpeded by tons of freight. It is the prospect of long and boring waits like these that tempt some people to take risks to try to outrace a train.
Most railroad crossings are equipped with flashing lights and gates that lower across the road to let drivers know that it is unsafe to cross. However, instead of slowing down when these warning signals begin, some drivers speed up in an effort to make it across the tracks before the train and therefore avoid the long wait. When a driver fails to make it to safety, a car vs train accident can leave him or her with serious personal injuries.
The problem is that trains are gigantic compared to regular cars, and so appear to be moving much slower than they actually are, which can give drivers a false idea about how long it will take the train to reach the intersection. It also takes a long time for a train to stop due to the momentum of the cars being towed by the engine. The more train cars there are, the longer it will take to stop. So even if the engineer sees that a car is trying to cross or is stalled on the tracks, it is unlikely that there will be enough time for him or her to stop the train before a collision.
Underpasses or overpasses, like the ones the state of Illinois will build if granted the federal money they have requested, eliminate the danger of car vs train accidents at railroad crossings, and also ease traffic flow. This helps keep everyone safe, railroad workers and drivers alike. Still, drivers should never try to outrace a train or speed through a railway crossing when the gates are down. A train will always win in a car vs train accident, and the accident may prove fatal to the driver.
Walton Telken, LLC is a personal injury law firm with a record of success in Missouri and Illinois. If you have questions about car accident lawsuits or railway safety litigation, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. The information provided by Walton Telken, LLC in this Blog is not intended to be legal advice, but merely provides general information related to common legal issues. This Blog, and the information contained within it, is Attorney Advertisement. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.