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Where Cars and Trains Meet: The Inherent Danger of Highway-Rail Crossings

In the last century, our economy has expanded greatly. Industry and technology have revolutionized several times over, and today things can be achieved more quickly, easily, and at a fraction of the cost than ever before. Ideas are sent at the speed of light across the world, and as our knowledge grows, greater things can be achieved on smaller platforms than we could have ever imagined. Everything, it seems, has changed.

One thing, however, has not changed. Our country’s reliance on railroads to ship goods across the country has only grown. Despite all of the changes in transportation technology, the train has remained one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to ship goods of all sizes. Our country was forged by rail, and our reliance on trains has only grown.

Pennsylvania boasts the highest number of operating railroads in the country, but with the prevalence of rails comes an increased risk of accidents involving trains and cars. There are multiple places where railroads and roads meet, known as rail grade crossings, where cars and trains must coexist safely. Unfortunately, through human error, technological failures, or just plain negligence, there are several accidents each year involving these crossings, many of which involve serious injury or death.

Approach With Caution: Rail Crossings and Highways

People are often nervous to drive around large tractor trailers, but trains are much larger and heavier machines. Trains can take several miles to come to a complete stop, and can inflict far greater damage. While avoiding them would seem obvious—just avoid railroad crossings—many people still push their luck when it comes to driving around these massive beasts.

While you may follow every rule—looking both ways, stopping at lowered gates, and vacating the tracks as soon as you are able—there have been instances where the technology meant to keep cars and trains separated fails. In these situations, cars have crossed tracks in direct danger of being hit by an oncoming train. In most cases, by the time the train is in visual range of a car, it is too late to take action.

When people are hurt as a result of train operator error or safety equipment failure, they are entitled to compensation for their damage and losses. While it may seem like something that could never happen to you, the annual number of railroad crossing accidents doubled last year in Pennsylvania. Be mindful of crossings, and if you are hurt as a result of negligence on behalf of the railroad, call an experienced injury attorney who can go to bat for your rights.