February 12th, 2017
Recently, a man was struck and killed by an Amtrak train. (See Story) The victim was walking on the train tracks when he was struck by the eastbound train, which was traveling at a rate of 76 miles per hour. Even though the train issued a warning, the victim did not respond to these sounds because he was wearing headphones. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that railroad accidents accounted for less than 1% of all transportation deaths in 2013, but individuals still need to be prepared for any eventuality when traveling on or hear Amtrak trains.
Amtrak is a publicly funded railroad company that provides passenger service for millions of Americans every year. More than 300 Amtrak trains run each day over 21,300 miles of track that connects more than 500 Amtrak stations. Although Amtrak train accidents are rare, when these accidents do occur, there is a potential for derailment and severe injuries.
Examples of Amtrak Accidents
There are several ways in which Amtrak accidents can occur. When Amtrak engineers do not obey speed limits or fail to follow safety procedures, there is a significant risk of serious accidents resulting. Some of the contributing factors of Amtrak accidents include:
● Defective train parts,
● Improperly maintained tracks,
● Lack of safety gates,
● Malfunctioning lights or train signals,
● Mechanical failure,
● Train operator carelessness or inexperience, or
● Unprotected crossings.
In 1998, an Amtrak train derailed on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks within the city limits of Arlington. Three locomotives and six cars derailed as a result of this accident, injuring 12 passengers and 10 employees. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported.
In 1999, 18 people suffered minor injuries when an Amtrak train carrying 234 passengers derailed in rural Texas near Eagle Lake after colliding with a truck. The train’s two locomotives and seven of its cars derailed.
Tips to Avoid Train Accidents
There are several pieces of safety advice that people can follow to avoid being involved in train accidents:
● Avoid Approaching Trains: Due to the weight and momentum of Amtrak trains, it is particularly difficult for trains to stop quickly. As a result, individuals should always make sure to stay out of the way of approaching trains.
● Crossing Trains: Remember that trains do not always run on predictable schedules, so do not assume that it is safe to cross train tracks.
● Maintain Distance: Avoid traveling on the train tracks or close enough to the train tracks that you could be injured if you fall onto them.
When Amtrak accidents occur, they often result in serious damage to property and bodily injury or death. Amtrak accidents are particularly complex and frequently include several liable parties. While Amtrak is a government entity, there will likely be many other parties involved in an accident or incident, all of which may be liable for damages to an injured party.