New Castle town officials and two members of Congress gathered near a Chappaqua train crossing to push for federal legislation to help with crossing safety. Improvements need to come quickly. A few days before the press conference, a driver got stuck between the railroad crossing gates at the same intersection, reported USA Today (3.8.15).
The issue of grade-crossing safety was prioritized around New York City following a deadly train crash last month. A train hit a SUV at a Metro-North train crossing in Westchester, New York resulting in six fatalities and a number of injured survivors.
The vehicle in Chappaqua became stuck at a railroad grade crossing. Cynthia Parent, 67, told police she was crossing the Metro-North Railroad tracks when a gate came down on the back of the Chrysler PT Cruiser she was driving. She got trapped between the safety gate and the tracks but was able to get out after backing up and breaking a crossing arm. The train then came rushing past her vehicle.
There were approximately 2,087 collisions between trains and motor vehicles in 2013, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis.
Train-car accidents are not always the fault of a car’s driver. Common causes of railroad crossing accidents that are not the fault of drivers include poorly designed and marked railroad crossings; trains exceeding the speed limit; and defective warning lights, bells or gates. Warning devices and ground surfaces at the crossing are the responsibility of the railroads. Advance warning signs that are not on the railroad right-of-way are the responsibility of local highway authorities.
When trains and cars collide, the train will always win. Even if the train’s engineer sees a car on the tracks, a train travelling at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop, and this is after the emergency brakes are applied.
Individuals who have been involved in a train accident, or their loved ones, should seek the help of an experienced lawyer, like the ones at The Perecman Firm.