Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

What Causes Accidents on the Rails?

What causes accidents at railroad crossings? How significant a problem are rail accidents in Kansas? There are 9,367 miles of track that course through 26 railroad companies operating in Kansas. Nationwide, there are more than 140,000 miles of track that carry approximately 40% of all cargo transported throughout the country. As of 2015, that amounted to 6.56 trillion tons of goods. Many of these rails intersect with rural highways and city streets which creates a considerable number of opportunities for vehicle-train collisions. Regardless of whether the train collides with a bicycle, passenger car, bus, or semi-truck, the size, weight, and velocity of the train creates devastating - often fatal -injuries.

The number of vehicle collisions at railroad intersections is declining in Kansas. In 2006, there were 295 such collisions. These caused 12 fatalities and 94 injuries. The number of collisions dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009 when there were just 226 collisions that caused 1 fatality and 76 injuries. Since 2011, the number of collisions has fluctuated between a low of 183 in 2013 and a high of 260 in 2010. From 2006 to 2016, there were 2,651 accidents at railroad crossings that claimed 60 lives and caused 836 injuries.

In 2016, there were 33 accidents between vehicles and trains. These caused 2 fatalities and 18 injuries. That is the highest number of injuries recorded in train-vehicle collisions since 2006 when 19 people were injured in such accidents. Over the past decade, there have been 386 train/vehicle collisions. These have caused 45 fatalities and 150 injuries. The data also shows that 6.1% of collisions with trains result in at least one fatality. Back around 1999 or so the BNSF railroad caused a really bad accident and Brad Pistotnik and David Hart tried a case against the railroad which ended up in a 7 figure verdict and it also started the removal of the railroad track in northeast Wichita which is now a bicycle and walking or jogging trail.

Nationwide, there were an estimated 2041 train/vehicle collisions that caused 255 fatalities and 843 injuries. This is considerably lower than the 2,936 collisions that caused 369 fatalities and 1,070 injuries in 2006. However, early information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the numbers are rising and that in 2017 there were 2,105 collisions that caused 274 fatalities.

These numbers are significant and highlight the need for continued vigilance when approaching railroad intersections. It also highlights the effectiveness of legislation regulating railroad crossings. Since 1981, the number of collisions and fatalities has dropped precipitously. In 1981, there were 9,461 collisions that caused 728 fatalities and 3,293 injuries. Since then, regulations requiring better lighting, clearer approaches, slower speeds, and stronger gates have saved many lives.

In Kansas, passenger vehicles are required to stop anywhere between 15 and 50 feet of a railroad crossing when a visible or mechanical signal such as a crossing gate indicates the presence of an oncoming train. Buses and trucks carrying hazardous cargo are required to stop at every intersection even if a signal is not present. Rigorous enforcement of these laws has reduced, but not entirely eliminated the risk Kansans face when they cross over the tracks.

Nationwide, it is estimated that every three hours, one person is either hit or killed by a train. In Kansas, the numbers are again rising. In 2017, 9 people died in train collisions in the state. This statistic is yet another reminder of just how important it is to slow down, stop, and focus on the road ahead when approaching railroad intersections.

Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients who are involved in accidents with trains in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Florida and Illinois. Whether the accident occurred in Wichita, Hays, Colby, Satanta, Derby, El Dorado, Liberal, Goodland, Great Bend, Hutchinson, Newton, McPherson, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Decatur, Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, Salina, Lawrence, Wellington, McPherson, Dodge City, Leavenworth, Garden City, or elsewhere in these states, we help clients recover the compensation they need to move forward following an injury or fatality causing accident.

We are Brad Pistotnik Law. ® We are Abogado El Toro. ® Hire the real Brad. ® Call in the Bull. ® We are the Bull Attorneys! ™ Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us 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. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL. Our main office location is at 10111 E. 21st St. N., Suite 204, Wichita Kansas 67206. Our Garden City office is at 3102 E, Kansas Avenue, Suite 100, Garden City, Kansas. We always give free consultations and we answer the 24/7 and on weekends and holidays for free legal consultation.