Brad Pistotnik Law
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What Happens When a Train Strikes a Passenger Vehicle?

What Happens When a Train Strikes a Passenger Vehicle?

What happens when a train strikes a passenger vehicle? Can motorists be held responsible when they attempt to evade safety features and cross the tracks when a train is approaching? In America, reckless driving involves contempt and irreverence for the safety of passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists. Attempting to "race the train" at railroad crossings, or attempting to evade safety barriers are inherently dangerous forms of reckless driving. When motorists engage in these behaviors, they can be held liable for the injuries and wrongful deaths they cause. When a train strikes a motor vehicle, occupants within the vehicle are 20 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than an accident with another motor vehicle.

Dangerous Crossings

Motor vehicle accidents are rising at railroad crosssings in America. In 2018, 2,214 collisions were recorded. These caused 819 injuries and 270 fatalities. This was an increase from 2,122 in 2017, and 2,049 in 2016. From 2008 through 2018, a total of 23,322 accidents occurred at railroad crossings. During that period, a total of 2,806 people died in these collisions, and 10,049 suffered personal injuries.

Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 50% of these accidents occur within 5 miles of the victim's home, and 75% of accidents at railroad crossings occur within 25 miles. In these instances, motorists often recklessly ignore the dangers in a last minute rush to get home, get to work, or finish the errand as quickly as possible.

The Most Dangerous States for Drivers

Of the 2,214 accidents at rail crossings in 2018, 67% occurred in just 15 states. There were 246 collisions in Texas that caused 13 deaths and 113 injuries, 109 in Illinois that caused 17 fatalities and 34 personal injuries, and 52 in Missouri that caused 9 fatalities and 22 injuries. Nationwide, Texas, California, Indiana, Georgia, and Illinois were the deadliest states in the US.

Saving Time by Breaking the Law

It is against the law to attempt to evade or circumvent a railroad barrier gates at a marked railway crossing. Speeding up to drive beneath the barriers, attempting to navigate through the barriers, or attempting to drive around the barriers by crossing the tracks are activities that can result in traffic citations. These rules are strictly enforced and are among the reasons that railway crossing accidents have declined more than 80% since Operation Lifesaver began in 1972.

There are more than 128,000 public railroad crossings in the United States. However, only about 30% are equipped with barrier gates and flashing lights. Further, only 5,000 are linked to traffic signals. This means that the vast majority of crossings are unprotected. At these intersections, drivers are more likely to attempt to race the train. Drivers may also be distracted and fail to notice the presence of an oncoming train. Both of these reckless driving behaviors can have severe, often fatal consequences that highlight the importance of respecting the tracks and not challenging a train to a deadly duel that motorists and their passengers never win.

Call Us for a Free Consultation

We offer free consultations for motorists injured in reckless driving accidents. We answer the phone 24/7 and on all weekends and holidays. Our motor vehicle accident attorneys represent clients who suffer personal injuries in motor vehicle accidents in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, and Illinois. We help you pursue compensation following a motor vehicle accident caused by reckless driving behaviors. Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. In Western Kansas you can call 620-THE-BULL.