Railroad Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: High Risk of Fatal Train – Car Collisions

Railroad Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: High Risk of Fatal Train – Car Collisions

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:

  1. AMTK – Amtrak RR
  2. BLRR Bee Line RR
  3. CAPA City of Auburn Port Authority
  4. CEIW Central Indiana & Western RR
  5. CERA Central Railroad Company of Indianapolis RR
  6. CFER Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern RR
  7. CIND Central Railroad Company of Indiana
  8. CKIN Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad
  9. CMPA City of Madison Port Authority RR
  10. CN Canadian National RR
  11. CNC C & NC RR
  12. CSSB Chicago, Southshore, & South Bend RR
  13. CSX CSX RR
  14. DCR Dubois County RR
  15. EJE Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railroad
  16. EVWR Evansville Western Railroad
  17. EWR Elkhart & Western Railway
  18. FCRR Fulton Couny Railroad
  19. GDLK Grand Elk Railroad
  20. GTW Grand Trunk Railroad
  21. HCR HC Railroad
  22. HHPA Hoosier Heritage Port Authority
  23. HOS Hoosier Southern RR
  24. IERR Indiana Eastern Railroad
  25. IHBR Indiana Harbor Belt
  26. IN Indiana Northeastern RR
  27. INCR Indian Creek RR
  28. INOH Indiana & Ohio RR
  29. INRD Indiana Rail Road Company
  30. IRRM Indiana Railroad Museum RR
  31. ISRR Indiana Southern RR
  32. ISW Indiana Southwestern Railway
  33. KBS Kankakee, Beaverville, & Southern RR
  34. KR Kokomo Rail
  35. KTR Kendallville Terminal RR
  36. LIRC Louisville & Indiana RR
  37. LORL Lucas Rail Lines dba LNA&C
  38. MGR MG Railroad
  39. MSO Michigan Southern Railroad
  40. NS Norfolk Southern RR
  41. SIND Southern Indiana Railway
  42. TPW Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railway
  43. VVR Vermilion Valley Railroad
  44. WC Wabash Central RR
  45. WSR Winamac Southern RR
  46. 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.

According to Operation Lifesaver Indiana:

  • 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!

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