Rose Tani was a 90 year old woman who had survived internment in a World War II camp and had 5 children. Unfortunately, she was a little too impatient on December 19th, 2007 and drove around a school bus and a railroad crossing with its gates down. She was killed instantly by the impact of the crash. Her story was in the news primarily because her son, Daniel Tani is a NASA astronaut who is presently living on the space station, but the story also highlights the increasing number of car accidents involving railway crossings.
Statistics show that California ranks second in highway-rail fatalities and is third in total collisions. Last year in 2006, 36 people were killed in California-a 63% increase over the year before. In terms of fatalities among railroad employees, though, these injury rates are down significantly due to less human error, the leading cause of train accidents. If you have been injured in a train-related accident or know someone who has, don’t hesitate to contact a professional personal injury attorney for further consultation of your rights.
So why would any normal person try to outrun a train weighing 450 tons and coming down the tracks at 90 mph? Several reasons include long delays, stopped trains on tracks and some even plan suicides. Whatever the reason, you will never outrun a train in your car and its best to obey all of the railroad crossings.
Here in Southern California, the second most common railway-type accidents involve pedestrians. Over 25% of all train accidents involve pedestrians walking along tracks or crossing at inappropriate times.
Experts agree on a few safety tips for pedestrians on or near a train track.
1. Never walk or play on tracks. It is illegal and could result in serious injury or death.
2. Never cross the tracks while the gate is down. Even if you don’t see the train, it is traveling 132 feet per second and can appear quickly! When the lights have stopped flashing, always look both ways before stepping across the tracks.
If you’re driving in a car, please adhere to the following safety tips:
1. Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.
2. Never race a train to the crossing – even it you tie, you lose
3. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call you local police for assistance. If a train iss coming, get out immediately and move quickly away from the tracks in the direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train is traveling, when the train hits your car you could be injured by flying debris.
4. ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Freight trains do not follow set schedules.
Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied. That’s 18 football fields!
5. Do not be fooled – the train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks. When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. Remember that it isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
You can always catch up on a phone call or go around a different route, but don’t try to out run a train-you will lose!