A truck driver recently died on Cheat Mountain when his truck slammed into a train. The train was carrying passengers who were touring in the mountains to view the fall foliage. More than 60 people were transported to a nearby hospital in Elkins, with several sustaining serious injuries.
When a dramatic collision like this one makes headlines, it underscores the reality that while there has been an overall decrease in vehicle-train crashes in recent years, such crashes still occur with alarming frequency. And the consequences can be deadly.
The following are some key safety tips when driving near and across train tracks:
- Always yield. Automobile drivers must always remember that a train will not — and in most cases, cannot — yield to cars. Many accidents occur at train crossings when drivers overestimate their ability to cross the tracks before a train arrives because they underestimate the speed at which a train is travelling.
- Heed the warning signs. The majority of vehicle-train accidents happen at crossings that are equipped with warning signals. Sometimes drivers ignore the flashing red lights or safety gates because they believe they are not working properly, or they believe they can beat a train before it reaches the crossing. This is never a good idea.
- Look and listen. Sometimes signals do fail, so it’s up to vehicle operators to look and listen for approaching trains when they are about to cross train tracks. Trains today are quieter than they used to be, and they often don’t run on set schedules. To drive safely, motorists need to remember that trains can be present at any time and may be moving in any direction.
If you’ve been injured in a train accident or any other type of car crash, meet with a knowledgeable West Virginia personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal options.