Dangerous Rail Crossings
Who could have imagined that driving through Copiah County could be so dangerous? But when a vehicle with two individuals crossed train tracks, it was struck by a train and dragged underneath for 50 feet. One person was killed, and the other was airlifted to a local hospital.
A Common Problem
It’s troubling to note that the County sheriff, Harold Jones, indicated that there have been multiple collisions at that very railroad crossing. And that is understandable, considering the fact that there are no safety arms and no warning lights indicating a train is on the way.
Unfortunately, this intersection is not isolated in terms of its danger to motorists. The fact is, there were 2,214 train/vehicle collisions in 2018 across this country. 270 people lost their lives in these accidents, and over 800 others experienced injuries.
No Safety Apparatus?
It seems unfathomable that this kind of accident is a recurrent problem in Mississippi. Why don’t all tracks have guardrails and signal lights, and who is responsible for providing these essential safety apparatus?
Mississippi law provides the mechanism for counties and municipalities to apply for federal funding in order to make improvements for railroad crossings. 17-5-13). Under Mississippi code, the Mississippi Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Safety Account was established in order to accomplish a number of goals, including:
- To close roadway/railway grade crossings when deemed necessary for safety reasons;
- To pay for the rerouting of roadways in response to a roadway/railway grade crossing closures;
- To match federal funds related to such closings;
- To install or upgrade railroad signals;
- To mount automatic warning signals in advance of track to warn motorists of railway hazards.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Mississippi State Highway Commission share decision-making authority with regard to making necessary changes in roadway/railway intersections. They need to follow particular protocols, including notifying pertinent constituencies and having hearings, but they can make changes in the interest of serving the public good. In addition to their authority, any county, city, town, or village has the power to designate a street as a controlled-access highway when a roadway leads to a particular facility.
Consequences of Auto-Train Collisions
Statistically speaking, 75 percent of collisions occur within 25 miles of home, and half of accidents occur within just five miles of home. When it comes to fatalities, it may be shocking to learn that the chances of being killed in a collision with a train are 20 times higher than of being killed in a motor vehicle collision.
Following a collision such as the one in Copiah County, what recourse do victims and family members have? Dealing with the aftermath of this type of accident can be emotionally devastating and financially crippling. At the office of Derek L. Hall, PC, our Jackson personal injury attorneys will go to bat for you in a quest for damages related to a tragic crash. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.