Train accidents are often fatal crashes and they happen much too often in our part of the country.
Forget the risk of trains derailing and spilling hazardous cargo or seeping toxic fumes into the countryside, and let’s not consider crashes where two trains collide with each other. Both these risks exist here in Indiana and Illinois. We’ve discussed the increasing risk of oil trains moving through our communities in an earlier post, if you’re interested in that issue.
Here, we’re focused upon the very real danger of train – car collisions in Indiana and Illinois. We live and work in states that are statistically the 2nd and 5th most dangerous areas in the country for fatal train – car accidents (for details, go here).
Train Crashes Are Often Fatal Accidents
You can read about fatal train accidents with Hoosiers all too often. In fact, there was another train crash tragedy just this week.
Reported in the NWI Times, comes this sad news story from last Friday morning, where a woman from LaPorte County was driving her Ford pick-up truck over some railroad tracks when the crossing gates apparently started coming down.
She couldn’t get her truck out of the way of the on-coming train because those crossing gates, in the down position, were blocking her truck.
So, thinking fast, she got herself and her 10 year old little boy out of the truck. We can imagine that she thought she was safe at that point.
Not so. The force of the impact of that moving Norfolk Southern train into the stationary Ford F-150 truck slammed that truck with a very great force. It shoved the pick up; caused the truck to roll. It happened fast — so fast, that the young mother was unable to get out of the way of that rollover, and it is tragic to report that she died in the train crash.
Huge Amount of Train Traffic Moves Through Indiana and Illinois Each Day
Trains and railroad tracks cover most of Indiana and Illinois. Look at a map of the U.S. railway system, and the heart of the entire American rail transport appears to be here, in Indiana and Illinois.
According to the American Association of Railroads, 40 freight railroads operate in Illinois, covering 6,986 miles of rail. They carry things like coal, farm products, and chemicals across the state.
Similarly, in Indiana, there are over 40 different freight railroads doing business in Indiana, over 4,075 miles of rail. Their cargo also includes coal, farm products, and chemicals. (These do not include passenger rails, like Amtrak.)
There are a lot of train tracks criss-crossing our roads and highways. Moreover, lots of different railroad companies have their trains moving through our communities. From the Indiana Department of Transportation, for instance, we have the following list of railroads licensed to operate and do business in Indiana in 2014:
- AMTK – Amtrak RR
- BLRR Bee Line RR
- CAPA City of Auburn Port Authority
- CEIW Central Indiana & Western RR
- CERA Central Railroad Company of Indianapolis RR
- CFER Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern RR
- CIND Central Railroad Company of Indiana
- CKIN Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad
- CMPA City of Madison Port Authority RR
- CN Canadian National RR
- CNC C & NC RR
- CSSB Chicago, Southshore, & South Bend RR
- CSX CSX RR
- DCR Dubois County RR
- EJE Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railroad
- EVWR Evansville Western Railroad
- EWR Elkhart & Western Railway
- FCRR Fulton Couny Railroad
- GDLK Grand Elk Railroad
- GTW Grand Trunk Railroad
- HCR HC Railroad
- HHPA Hoosier Heritage Port Authority
- HOS Hoosier Southern RR
- IERR Indiana Eastern Railroad
- IHBR Indiana Harbor Belt
- IN Indiana Northeastern RR
- INCR Indian Creek RR
- INOH Indiana & Ohio RR
- INRD Indiana Rail Road Company
- IRRM Indiana Railroad Museum RR
- ISRR Indiana Southern RR
- ISW Indiana Southwestern Railway
- KBS Kankakee, Beaverville, & Southern RR
- KR Kokomo Rail
- KTR Kendallville Terminal RR
- LIRC Louisville & Indiana RR
- LORL Lucas Rail Lines dba LNA&C
- MGR MG Railroad
- MSO Michigan Southern Railroad
- NS Norfolk Southern RR
- SIND Southern Indiana Railway
- TPW Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railway
- VVR Vermilion Valley Railroad
- WC Wabash Central RR
- WSR Winamac Southern RR
- WVRR Whitewater Valley RR.
All this means that we need to be aware of the very real danger of train accidents in Indiana and Illinois. We need to be alert to the risks, and help our loved ones be aware of the risk they face anytime they approach a railroad crossing in their vehicle.
Prevention and Protection: Train – Car Collisions
For those who have had loved ones injured or killed in a train crash, there are laws established in Indiana and Illinois to protect train accident victims and help them to find justice. Railroad companies, for instance, may be liable for the consequences of their failure to keep tracks and crossings maintained, repaired, and safe for the public when one of their huge and heavy trains rumbles past.
If lights are not working, for instance, it may not mean that a train is not about to enter a roadway and rail crossing. It may mean only that the lights are malfunctioning.
- 62% of fatal train accidents involve trespassing;
- 32% of fatal train accidents involve car-train crossing crashes;
- 48% of all crossing collisions occur at gates; and
- 65% of all crossings do not have gates.
Railroad companies may be liable for the fatal train accident that occurs on their property and at their railway crossing. State personal injury law scovering negligence and accidents as well as product liability and special carrier protections exist to help train accident victims find justice after a fatal railway accident. Be careful out there!