The Top Ten States for Car-Train Collisions
Railroad crossing accidents may seem like something from an old movie, a relic of the past. Thanks to the elimination of many grade level railroad crossings, accidents at railroad crossings have decreased by more than 96 percent annually since 1985. Yet collisions between motor vehicles and trains continue to happen across the nation.
The states with the most railroad mileage have the most railroad and highway crossings, and the most accidents. Therefore it is no surprise that Texas and California lead the nation in crossing incidents. Texas has the dubious distinction of being the leader, with 177 accidents in 2009. California followed with 114 accidents. Georgia tallied 107 accidents, while Illinois came in fourth with 103, due no doubt to Chicago's position as the nation's rail center. These four states accounted for more than one quarter of all crossing accidents in the United States in 2009. (Source: Federal Railroad Administration)
Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina round out the top ten for the period 2007–2009. Tennessee and Kentucky rate honorable mentions for edging out North Carolina for more accidents in 2009. The state with the fewest crossing accidents for 2007–2009 was New Hampshire, whose smaller size obviously limits its railroad mileage and number of crossings.
Further research from the Federal Railroad Administration shows that the type of warning devices present at a crossing has a huge effect on the number of accidents. If a private crossing, which is maintained by a corporation on private property, has crossing gates, the number of train–motor vehicle accidents plummets. Surprisingly this decrease in accidents by use of crossing gates is not seen at public crossings, which are usually found on public streets. The reason for this can be attributed to driver impatience. Drivers on public roads too often drive around the gates rather than wait for the train to pass. The results are often tragic.
Trains have the right of way at railroad crossings, and motorists have a duty to stay clear. However, railroads, corporations, and municipalities have a duty to the public to maintain crossings to ensure that the public's safety is not endangered. If you are injured at a railroad crossing, consult with an accident attorney in your area familiar with this type of accident.
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