Surprisingly, deaths at railroad crossings in Texas have doubled in the past year. Prior to this recent spike, the death toll at railroad crossings had dropped significantly in the four previous years, in part due to a federal plan for improving safety at railroad crossings.
Some experts believe that railroads are to blame for the increase. They point out that the railroads have increased the speed of trains without changing the timing of crossing gates. However, many blame the drivers themselves, pointing out that they are the ones who are ultimately responsible.
So far this year, 32 people have died at railroad crossings in Texas, which includes the horrific accident that occurred in Midland in the veterans’ parade that killed four veterans. In the previous four years, Texas averaged 20 deaths a year. Although Texas’s railroad crossing statistics are getting worse, nationally railroad crossing deaths have been declining in the past five years. Across the country, 168 people have been killed at railroad crossings, which is 10 less than last year.
A TxDOT spokesperson says that Texas has been developing a plan to decrease accidents, which won’t be fully implemented until 2014, but that motorists hold the key to improving safety. However, others disagree, pointing out that the real issue is that railroads are increasing their train speeds without adjusting the mechanical devices at the railroad crossings. TxDOT documents show that trains are traveling at speeds of 70 miles per hour when the crossing’s designs were based on speeds of 25 miles per hour.
It’s important for Texas drivers to remember to be alert at railroad crossings. The lights, bells and automatic arms may not give you enough of a warning to avoid a crash. If you’ve been injured in a Texas railroad crossing crash, contact the Dallas railroad crossing accident attorneys at the Barber Law Firm at 866-986-1529.