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Is there an easy way to reduce crashes between trains and trucks?


Posted on behalf of Mark F. Griffin of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Mar 26, 2015 in Truck Accidents

Most would likely agree that anything that can be done to reduce the number of truck accidents that occur throughout the country is a good idea. This is true whether a traffic accident involves another car or truck, or has been the case recently, a train. Because of this it is not a surprise that efforts have been made to try to reduce the number of these incidents that occur. 

Currently, a high-tech system that would cost a total of approximately $14.2 billion is being pursued by railroads in the United States. The railroads anticipate it will take an additional five years before that system would be ready. That is a long time and potentially many crashes involving trucks and trains. As it turns out, one of the elements necessary to put into place before such a system could work might have a great impact on the number of crashes that occur anyway—simple communication between the truck and the train. Toll free phone emergency numbers, which would connect the caller to the train dispatcher, could be posted at railroad crossings.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been advocating for some sort of communication requirement for close to half of a century. The agency’s director of railroad and hazardous materials investigations claims that throughout the years such a requirement could have prevented 144 accidents which resulted in 6,500 injuries and 300 deaths.

Despite this information, the acting director of highway safety for the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that currently there is not a federal rule or law that requires that train operators and truck drivers be able to communicate. In some cases, “best practices" guidelines have been issued by highway regulators. These may recommend that truck drivers contact the railroad in situations where there is a concern about whether the truck will be able to make it over the tracks.

When truck accidents involving trains do happen, serious injuries and even death can be the result. If negligence of another person or entity played a role in the incident occurring, it may make sense to file a lawsuit.