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Steven M. Lee, PC

The Choo-Choo Choices That Put Your Life at Risk

In car-versus-train collisions, the train wins every timeSince the 1800s, trains have been an important form of transportation for both travelers and commerce alike. The construction of the transcontinental railroad was the superhighway of its day that put the United States at the forefront of world trade, as it drastically reduced traveling time and danger (products no longer had to travel by rough seas).

Over the last 200 years, even with the invention of the airplane, trains have become a more nostalgic form of transportation while remaining an important tool of commerce. In other words, trains were built to last: they were here before you and they’ll be here after you’re gone.

However, even though they have a set path in history (as well as a set path of travel), an alarming number of motorists still overlook the power and force that trains produce. Unfortunately, this naiveté is what causes hundreds of catastrophic train accidents a year.

Trains’ Limits Make Your Choices Risky

Trains have basically remained the same for the past 200 years. They follow a designated route, they have a fixed speed depending on the type of track used, and they generally maintain course and speed throughout their journey unless of an unplanned emergency. Unlike cars, they can’t veer off course or accidentally collide with other vehicles because their route is set. Furthermore, unlike cars:

  • Trains can’t stop on a dime—they’re too heavy, and consequently have too great a momentum and kinetic energy.
  • Trains can’t swerve to avoid a collision; they must remain on track.
  • Trains can’t follow standard traffic rules; again, stopping and slowing down at intersections is not a possibility.

However, despite these limitations, the potential for a derailment, and the obvious calamitous force in which a train is capable, people still insist on letting their guard down when they approach a moving train. The most common destructive choices people make with regards to trains include:

  • Failing to stop to allow a train to pass. Many people foolishly prefer to try to outrun an approaching train rather than waiting a few minutes for a train to pass. No matter how far away the train is, if you can see, hear, or feel the vibration you shouldn’t attempt to cross. A train can cross 50 yards in one second. That’s half the length of a football field in the time it takes for you to blink, let alone move your foot to the gas pedal.
  • Failing to obey safety signs. Barrier gates, flashing lights, and crossing signals are not safety suggestions; they are there to inform drivers and pedestrians that a train will soon be crossing the intersection and that all vehicles and walkers need to be free from the track. Most signals activate when the train is approximately 15 seconds from the crossing.
  • Failing to double check the track. Technology doesn’t always work. Sometimes vehicles are struck because their drivers depended on railway crossing barriers and signals to warn them of an approaching train. Unfortunately, faulty warning signals or broken barrier gates can cause a driver to think the coast is clear when it isn’t.

When Negligence Puts You On the Track Toward a Catastrophe

In addition to poor decisions, negligence on behalf f others can also put you and your family at risk of suffering a terrifying train collision.

  • A defective engine may cause your car to stall on the tracks
  • A negligent truck driver may cause a collision that pushes your car in front of a train
  • Your steering wheel may lock, turning you into the path of an oncoming train

…and so on.

In these situations, you need the reliable advice and guidance of an experienced car accident attorney in order to secure your family’s recovery and get your life back on the track you want.

With over 35 years working with victims of car accidents, we’ve seen and heard every excuse and we don’t buy them. When someone hurts your family, we make sure they’re held responsible. For help in reviewing your case, contact us today at 713-921-4171 or 1-800-232-3711.


Steven M. Lee
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Houston Attorney at Law

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