Lancaster, NE- Three major train accidents in just a matter of two months compelled lawmakers to introduce a bill that would improve safety at rail crossings across the country.
Just yesterday, an Amtrak train leaving Charlotte, North Carolina, heading to Washington D.C. struck a tractor-trailer that became stuck on the tracks. Two cars on the train derailed and fifty-five people were injured, but none was life-threatening, according to the Huffington Post.
Last month in California, a produce truck stuck on train tracks just outside Los Angeles caused another accident that left 33 people injured, four of which suffered critical injuries.
In early February, a collision between North Metro Train and a SUV left six people dead. Investigators say Ellen Brody was parked on the tracks when her vehicle was struck and made no attempt to get out of the path of the train. Police still don’t know why she was parked on the tracks.
In all of these accidents, the motorists were sitting on the tracks when a train approached. These accidents beg the question: Are motorists too cavalier when it comes to railroad crossings?
Last week the House of Representatives passed the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, which allocates money to Amtrak to maintain infrastructure and awareness programs to improve rail safety. Another bill, introduced by Rep. Elizabeth Esty from Connecticut would allocate funds to local governments to improve grade crossing and educate people on rail safety.
Each year, over two hundred people lose their lives at and over 900 people are injured at railroad crossings across the country. In many of those cases, motorists are at fault because they fail to heed warning signs. In light of these collisions, our Nebraska accident attorneys would like to share some tips that can help motorists traverse railroad tracks safely.
Operation Life Saver, a group that advocates for rail safety, recommends that when you approach a train tracks, you should stop and look both ways. Remember trains are moving faster than they seem, so Don’t Try to Outrun a Train! You will likely lose.
Don’t sit in train tracks. Only attempt to cross tracks when you are certain you can completely clear the tracks. That one extra car length you gained by sitting on tracks will be meaningless if you are struck by a train.
If you get stuck behind crossing gates you, know that you can drive through them. If your vehicle gets stuck in between the gates that means you are too close to the tracks and risk being hit. Those gates are made of fiberglass and are meant to break if you get stuck behind them as a train approaches.
If your vehicle stalls on tracks, get out immediately and move away from the tracks. Call police for assistance because the people on the train are at risk as well.
While these three accidents were the result of a motorist’s negligence, there are occasions when other parties are at fault for an accident. When that is the case, victims or their surviving family members are eligible to seek compensation from the negligent parties. Victims are encourage to speak with a Nebraska accident attorney to discuss their case.

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