Commuter trains into New York City and Boston are leaving our city every single day. They are big and fast and can cause a tremendous amount of damage if they are ever involved in a New Haven auto accident. It is for this reason that while they provide a tremendous service to residents of our city, we all need to be educated on the best way to avoid any dangerous interaction with commuter trains as they speed down the tracks.
While there are not many railroad crossings directly in the city of New Haven, if you drive anywhere around the city on side streets or back roads you may run into train tracks and need to know how to approach them to keep yourself and your passengers safe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are injuries and deaths that occur at railroad crossings each and every day in the United States. In fact, in 2021 there were 1,600 collisions between trains and motor vehicles.
With that in mind it is important to know how to avoid getting into this type of accident. So, the three most important things you can do are;
1.) A train that is coming down the track is always afforded the right of way because it is extremely difficult for a train to come to a stop when they have a full head of steam. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to stop at the train tracks, look and listen for an on-coming train. You will likely be able to hear the train before you can see it so if that is the case you should not cross the tracks until the train passes.
2.) One of the most dangerous things you can do is to stop ON the tracks. If you have assessed the situation and you have come to the determination that you will be able to cross the tracks in time before a train comes through, make sure you have the space to do so and then go across the tracks. Stopping on the tracks for any reason is asking for serious trouble because in the event that you are unable to move when a train is coming, you may get hit.
3.) Do NOT under any circumstances drive around a gate that is meant to keep you off the train tracks, even if it is in the process of lowering and you think you can make it. It is not safe to do so and you may get struck by an on-coming train. In that vein, never ignore signals at a railroad crossing. If lights are flashing and bells are ringing, you should stop your vehicle and wait for the train to pass down the tracks.
It may not be every day that you come in contact with a railroad crossing, but it is happening every day that people are getting injured or killed at crossings and therefore it is critical that you know the rules of engagement with a train and you take the necessary steps to keep yourself and your passengers safe when crossing the tracks. If you don’t follow these simple safety steps you may find yourself involved in a New Haven auto accident with a train and that could have fatal consequences.
While it is unlikely that an accident involving your vehicle and a train will end well, it is possible that you will experience an injury if you are involved in such an accident. If that is the case, you may wish to contact our office and speak to one of our experienced attorneys who can review your situation and work with you to protect your long-term interests.