On Nov. 16, a trailer carrying Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a parade was hit by a train in a railroad crossing in Midland. Four people were killed and sixteen others were injured. Four of the wounded victims are suing the train operator and the owners of the truck that was pulling the trailer.
According to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the float was crossing the tracks when warning bells began to sound and lights began to flash. The warning lasted 20 seconds before the train sped through the crossing at more than 60 miles per hour. The cab of the truck got through but the train hit the float, which was carrying 12 war-wounded veterans and their wives.
The Texas Department of Transportation released records recently showing that the crossing was designed to give 30 seconds of warning, not the 20 that it actually gave. In this case, where the front of the vehicle made it through and the train hit the back, that extra ten seconds could have made a huge difference.
Some people have blamed these frequent crashes on rail road companies, who have increased the speed of their trains without adjusting signal times accordingly. This leaves a smaller window of time for road users to cross safely. There are others, however, who argue that motorists' safety ultimately lies with them and drivers should exercise extra caution around rail crossings.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident caused by a negligent operator or dangerous road conditions, consider speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can help you review your case, pursue any appropriate legal claims for compensation and work on getting back to your life.
Source: Reuters, "Texas records raise questions about warning before train crash," Matthew Waller, Nov. 29, 2012