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Causes of Railroad Accidents
Mobile, Alabama FELA Lawyers
There have been over 230 train-related accidents reported in Alabama since January of 2007, causing numerous injuries and over 25 fatalities. Since most of these railroad accidents occur in train yards and in rural areas away from the public eye, they do not always get the press exposure that automobile accidents do. It usually takes a catastrophic collision or derailment that affects the general public for a railroad accident to become newsworthy. However, a good portion of rail injuries and fatalities involve employees of the rail company. When these occur, often times the rail company will do whatever it can to keep the incident out of the press.
Many people are surprised to hear such high numbers of railroad accidents. What causes them? Here are the most recent Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics:
- Human factors - These are listed as the cause of 38 percent of railroad accidents. Not surprising, considering how many accidents could in some way be blamed on human error. This figure includes any combination of the following; operator fatigue, speeding, intoxication, overloading the engine, routing errors, negligence of equipment maintenance, faulty rail inspections, insufficient railroad security, motorists or cyclists attempting to outrun a train, pedestrian hopping a moving train, suicides, vandalism or other deliberate damage to equipment.
- Track defects - Improperly designed or laid track, including poorly designed roadway/railway intersections cause about 35 percent of accidents.
- Faulty equipment - Design or manufacturing flaws of engines or train cars, braking systems, or track switching equipment accounts for about 12 percent of accidents.
- Faulty signaling - 2 percent of accidents result from defective horns, lighting, or other railroad/roadway intersection signaling.
- Other and miscellaneous - Bridge or tunnel collapse, embankment washouts due to flood, extreme weather and other “acts of god” account for about 13 percent of accidents.
According to the FRA and other sources, the two leading causes of railroad accidents are operator fatigue and poor maintenance. Although train operators are not allowed to work any longer than a 12-hour shift, this does not eliminate the risk of fatigue. As for poor maintenance, there has been a 50 percent reduction in the numbers of maintenance workers employed by rail companies in the last 20 years.
If you have been injured in a train-related accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. If you live in the Mobile, Alabama area, please contact railroad accident attorneys at Long & Waite Law firm today to schedule a consultation.