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Grade Crossing Railroad Crashes Not Yet Eliminated

railroad-crossing-sign.jpgOver the past several decades, government and industry organizations have recognized the potential for injury and death at freight and passenger train railroad crossings. As a result, new safety standards have been implemented.

Safety efforts have focused on railroad crossing accidents because, in many instances, they are preventable. By one estimate, 95 percent of all railroad fatalities are the result of either pedestrians trespassing on railroad property or cars and other passenger vehicles driving over train tracks. Safety efforts have paid off, significantly reducing the number of grade crossing accidents in the United States since the 1980s.

Despite this work, grade crossing accidents continue to occur, especially in states like Ohio with a relatively high population density and numerous railroads and railroad crossings. In fact, Ohio ranked eighth in the U.S. in the number of grade crossing accidents in 2014, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration.

During that year, there were 86 train-vehicle collisions in Ohio that caused four deaths and 33 significant injuries. As a result, the state embarked on a program to make grade crossings safer. In recent years, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio installed flashing lights and gates on more than 1,700 grade crossings using state and federal grants. The state has also embarked on a program to place stop signs, rather than yield signs, at selected unguarded crossings.

Nevertheless, from January through June 2015, there were 33 grade crossing accidents in the state, including a fatal collision in Hamilton County. Another county in the Cincinnati area, Butler County, has the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of fatal train crashes in the state for the past 10 years.

The continued presence of grade crossings protected by only a yield or stop sign means that grade crossing accidents will continue to happen. People who were injured or who lost loved ones in train accidents may be entitled to recover against the railroad. Train crossing cases are complex and the railroad company is going to work the case from day one to attempt to avoid liability. If you think you might have a case, you should seek an attorney immediately.

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