A recent CBS News article (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bus-train-crash-there-were-16-accidents-at-mississippi-train-crossing-over-4-decades/) highlighted the increasing danger at railroad crossings across the United States.
A bus full of tourists headed to Mississippi casinos became stuck on railroad tracks at a crossing in Biloxi, Mississippi. The bus sat on the tracks for over five minutes. Finally, as the passengers were trying to disembark, the bus was rammed by a CSX Transportation freight train, killing four people and injuring forty more, seven critically. The train dragged the bus over 300 feet and it took over an hour to remove all of the passengers, including two victims who had to be cut free from the wreckage.
According to a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there have been sixteen vehicle train accidents at this particular railroad crossing since 1976, not even counting the most recent tragedy. In January, the driver of a tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks got out and ran down the tracks to warn the engineer, but the train still slammed into the truck. At least two of the numerous other previous accidents – in 1983 and 2003 – also included fatalities.
After declining for a number of years, railroad crossing deaths in the United States have been on the rise recently, culminating in 265 fatalities in 2016. States received nearly $400 million in federal funds last year to improve railroad crossing safety, but sadly, the Mississippi crossing that was the site of this devastating tragedy did not even make the government’s list of most dangerous crossings.
The NTSB is investigating the collision because of the pattern of accidents at the crossing, and it could issue an urgent recommendation if immediate action is required, but as a practical matter this rarely happens. Indeed, the real question is why has it taken so long for the crossing to be investigated? How many devastating accidents and tragic deaths are too many?
DBJ has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients who have been injured in railroad crossing accidents. Please call us today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation with an experienced railroad crossing accident lawyer.