December 14, 2023
About three years ago, two people were killed in Gary, Indiana, when their car was hit by a freight train. The two were on the way to an early shift at work when, according to a video recording, they attempted to go around the crossing gates, which were down to caution drivers of the train’s arrival. The car did not make it across the track in time, and the two were killed on the scene from blunt force trauma.
Trains’ massive size and speed cause them to be extremely dangerous to any car or person that attempts to cross their path. Because of this, it is important to understand how to approach railroad tracks safely as well as the risks involved when dealing with them incorrectly.
Active and Inactive Train Tracks in Evansville
In Evansville, you will find both active train tracks and inactive train tracks.
- Active train tracks: There are multiple active train tracks in Evansville. You might cross them when driving along Ohio St, Stringtown Rd, Diamond Ave, or other local streets. If you happen to come across these, you should approach with caution. Experts advise you to come to a complete stop before the train track. You should both look and listen for a train before you proceed. It is also important that you never attempt cross the tracks if the gate is down.
- Inactive train tracks: It is not uncommon for train tracks to become inactive over the years. In Evansville, many of these tracks are positioned closely to active tracks. For example, an inactive track intersects an active train track right along Division St near Lloyd Expressway. You should never assume that train tracks are inactive. You should approach inactive track with the same caution that you use to approach active train tracks.
Trains Always Have the Right of Way
No matter the circumstance, when a car and train both approach a railroad crossing, the train will always have the right of way. Because of the loads that the trains are often carrying behind the front car, they can take significantly longer to stop than any other vehicle.
For example, if a train is traveling 55 miles per hour, it can take up to a mile for the train to come to a stop. Because of this, they are never required to stop in areas for cars to pass. You should never race to beat a train, because even if the train slams on the brakes, the car will likely be struck.
Train Tracks Are Private Property
Despite what many photographers would like you to believe, train tracks are considered private property. Therefore, if you walk on train tracks, you can be charged with trespassing.
Not only is this illegal, but it is also extremely dangerous. Like mentioned before, it takes a train a significant amount of time to come to a stop, and therefore, by the time a conductor notices a trespasser on the tracks, it can often be too late.
Trains Extend Past the Rail
Sometimes, it can be just as dangerous to walk close to a train track as it can be to walk on the train track. Trains can extend up to three feet off the rail. It is wise to put at least 20 yards between you and train tracks at any time to avoid any accidents.
Train Schedules Are Not Predictable
Despite what many believe, there is not always a specific schedule determining what time of day a train will and will not be coming through. You should never assume that a train track is safe without checking.
Trains Carry Literal Tons of Cargo
The average locomotive weighs about 200 tons. However, some of the larger trains can weigh up to 6,000 tons. A train that heavy would have a mighty force against a small car or SUV, likely resulting in a fatal collision.
Help from an Evansville Personal Injury Attorney
While there are many steps you can take to avoid collision with a train, at times these accidents can be the fault of the railways. If the gate did not go down when a train was approaching, or you were victim to another malfunction, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation, or contact us online.