Exercising caution when operating a motor vehicle in any setting is always critical. Accidents can occur anywhere and at any time when motorists are negligent. However, a recent incident on the other side of the state, in Allegheny County, serves as a reminder that being careful when driving near train tracks is particularly vital.
On Thursday, May 26, 17 cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Harmar Township. Although it may still be too early to conclude with any degree of absolute certainty precisely why this accident occurred, early reports indicate the accident was the result of the train colliding with a construction vehicle that was crossing the tracks.
The driver of the construction vehicle and multiple other individuals involved in the accident were taken to the hospital for treatment. In addition to the immediate injuries sustained by those directly involved in the accident, the derailment has led to concerns regarding any potential environmental consequences.
The train tankers that derailed were transporting petroleum distillate. Because nine of the 17 cars that derailed ended up in a nearby creek, cleanup crews have worked to confirm that no contamination has occurred. Fortunately, it appears that contamination is not an issue, and access to the Allegheny River in the area was reopened a few days after the accident.
The accident occurred fairly recently. It is thus unclear if any of the parties involved will be taking legal action to recover compensation for their medical bills or other such losses sustained as a result of this derailment. It’s not obvious just yet who the liable parties may be in this scenario.
Regardless, once more, incidents such as this remind us of how important it is to keep both ourselves and others out of harm’s way when approaching or crossing train tracks. Tips to keep in mind when driving on or near tracks include the following:
Many accidents at train crossings occur when motorists or pedestrians are already aware that a train is approaching. They may not get out of harm’s way in a timely manner because they underestimate a train’s speed.
Don’t make this mistake. If you are preparing to cross-train tracks but you are aware a train is approaching, err on the side of caution and wait for the train to pass.
Some people lose their lives because their vehicles get stuck on train tracks when trains are approaching. Instead of fleeing their vehicles and moving to safety, they remain in their vehicles in an attempt to start them.
To some degree, this may be a reasonable decision if it’s clear a train is very far off. Allowing a train to collide with a vehicle on the tracks could result in a derailment or other such accident. However, if a train is approaching fast and your vehicle will not move, leave the vehicle and run quickly to a safe spot away from the tracks. It’s best to run at an angle in the direction of the approaching train to avoid being struck by debris.
Some railroad crossings consist of two sets of tracks. If you stop for a train at such a crossing, don’t immediately proceed through the crossing once the train passes you. Confirm there isn’t another train approaching on the other set of tracks before crossing.
Unfortunately, it’s still possible to be involved in a train accident even when you are responsible and cautious. If you are ever injured in such an accident, contact a Philadelphia train accident attorney at Solomon, Sherman & Gabay to discuss pursuing compensation for your losses. Contact us online or call us at 215-665-1100 for more information.