Lack of Safety Gates: One of the Major Causes of Train Accidents
Trains have played a major role in the U.S. transport system since the 1800s; these have moved thousands of passengers and important goods and cargo, including coal, oil, export and import materials, as well as dangerous, toxic, or hazardous substances, from one county or state to another.
With the U.S. railroad system extending from coast to coast, the government makes sure that these powerful and huge locomotives have safe rails to travel on. The continuous increase of cars, buses and air flights, however, has limited the role of passenger trains, leaving the bulk of rail transport to shipment of freights.
Add to a train’s size and weight the combined wight of all passengers and the tons of cargo that it carries, stopping in case of emergency will definitely be very difficult for a train operator. Thus, if anything goes wrong, cost of damage to property and the number of lives that may be lost will be much greater compared to what any other motor vehicle accident can inflict. Avoidance of train accidents makes it imperative, therefore, to maintain and regularly check trains and railroads; add to these the importance of properly training train conductors, of properly marking railroad crossings, and the installation of light signals and safety gates.
Though the National Transportation Safety Board says that over 60% of all railroad crossing accidents occur at unprotected or under-protected crossing sites (these are sites with improperly marked crossings and/or lacking in safety gates, markings or signs will only inform motorists that they are approaching a railroad crossing, not whether there is a train coming. Hence, more important than markings or signs are flashing light signals and safety gates as these are the ones that will announce a train’s approach and warn drivers of the need to make a full stop.
In its website, the Hankey Law Office says that despite the importance of safety gates, in particular, many individuals and authorities responsible for putting these gates in place often fail to do so in certain locations either because of the additional cost of the gates or simply due to negligence. This is in spite of their knowledge that the lack of this necessary safety feature significantly increases the chances that a damaging and potentially deadly accident will occur.
Safety gates undeniably play a very important role in the safety of motorists as these can prevent fatal accidents from ever happening. As a train nears a railroad intersection, its operator would naturally assume that the safety gates are down and that signal lights are flashing to warn drivers from continuing on. In like manner, drivers also expect that they will be warned about an approaching train through flashing signal lights and lowered safety gates. Anything that will prove wrong a train operator’s assumption or drivers’ expectation can be ascertained as an act of negligence by someone else. Any accident that may occur can, therefore, be blamed on whoever this negligent culprit is and, being the liable party, he or she should be made to face justice, as well as have the capability to compensate the victims of his or her careless behavior.