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Rail Crossings Need Safety Review


The average locomotive weighs 200 tons. The average passenger car weighs less than 2 tons. When the two collide, it's not hard to understand the dangers weight, momentum, and inertia will have on the average family sedan. For this reason, it is imperative that all railroad crossings be equipped with safety features that will prevent collisions.

That doesn't always happen and in 2015 there were more than 2,000 vehicle/train collisions nationwide. These caused 244 fatalities and 967 injuries. Many of these collisions occurred because railroads failed to properly maintain safety features at crossings such as sensors, warning lights and gates.

Most recently, a man was hurt when his vehicle was struck by a train at the intersection of Middle Tennessee Boulevard in Murfreesboro. This particular intersection has seen several train/vehicle collisions over the years and is considered among the most dangerous in the state. Even so, it appears that little has been done to mitigate the danger the intersection poses to motorists who can quickly find themselves in the path of an oncoming train.

"The number of collisions occurring each year has dropped to 20% of what it was in 1980. The decline is significant, however, it's clear that the problem is far from eliminated. While better driver education, stricter enforcement, and technology have helped, problem intersections still remain. With nearly 30 railroad companies operating in Tennessee, there are plenty of tracks, and plenty of opportunities for vehicle/train collisions," commented car wreck attorney Tony Seaton.

"The Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook sets forth strict guidelines for safety. These include active devices including flashing lights, gates, signals. The guidelines also include passive devices such as stop signs, crossbucks, and warning signs. In the case of the Murfreesboro intersection where this most recent accident occurred, it's clear that these safety features are not adequately protecting drivers from the risk of serious injury or death," lamented Johnson City car wreck attorney Tony Seaton.

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