At first glance, many train accidents that involve motor vehicles can appear to be the result of the vehicle not properly yielding to the train. However, despite the fact that many of these accidents occur at designated railroad crossings, the cause of the accident may not be as clear-cut as people may initially think. Only by taking a complete look at the circumstances surrounding the accident can the cause be truly understood.
We have discussed local car accidents in several previous posts, but what happens when a car and a train collide? According to one local expert, when a train hits a car, the driver is 20 times more likely to be killed than in a normal car accident. As of December 24, 13 people across the state of Missouri had been killed in train wrecks in 2011. That is the highest train-related fatality rate in five years.
When approaching a railroad track, most drivers simply proceed forward if the crossing gates are not down or the lights are not flashing. Because of their size, large vehicles, like school buses or tractor-trailers, generally stop before crossing to ensure that a train is not approaching from further down the tracks, prior to the point when the gates and/or lights are activated. It is important for large vehicles to take this precaution in order to avoid a railroad crossing accident.