Most drivers are so familiar with our daily commute that they can picture nearly every straightway and every curve in great detail. Of course, with this familiarity comes the danger that drivers might discount otherwise very real dangers due to the simple fact that they almost never encounter them.
For example, a driver might always roll through a neighborhood yield sign without paying careful attention, as they almost never encounter oncoming traffic. Similarly, a driver might disregard signs posted at a local railroad crossing, as they have yet to ever see a train approaching.
Unfortunately, it's just this kind of complacency that can see motorists involved in serious or even deadly accidents.
Indeed, statistics from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security show that the majority of accidents involving cars and trains occur within 25 miles of a driver's home, meaning chances are very good that the driver was well aware of the tracks and the accompanying dangers.
When it comes to train accidents involving cars, the statistics are not entirely encouraging:
- While the average loaded train weighs 12 million pounds, the average passenger vehicle weights a mere 3,000 pounds.
- Occupants of passenger vehicles are 30 times more likely to die in a train accident than they are in a car accident, bus accident or truck accident.
- When a train is traveling at 55 miles-per-hour, it takes an entire mile to come to a complete stop.
- More than 50 percent of all fatal train accidents involving cars in the U.S. occur at crossings equipped with gates, bells and/or lights, while over 65 percent occur in broad daylight.
In our next post, we'll explore why these accidents occur and what drivers can do to stay safe. In the meantime, those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a train accident caused by the negligence of another should know that they are not without recourse and that an experienced legal professional can fight to protect their rights.
Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, "Tennessee comprehensive driver license manual," Accessed Oct. 14, 2014