Light Rail and The Risks Involved

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As more and more cities try to minimize the environmental impact of their citizens, light rail has emerged as a reasonable alternative to buses, subways, and other traditional forms of mass transit. The startup cost is much lower than the tunneling and engineering required for a subway or elevated train.

One of the primary advantages of light rail is that it is able to be integrated into the existing infrastructure more easily than many other forms of mass transit. Light rail employs cars with narrow bodies, allowing cities to deploy these types of services on existing streets with comparatively minor modifications.

Unfortunately, this convenience comes with significant safety considerations. Because light rail is often integrated with existing commuter traffic, additional dangers must be taken into consideration.

A recent incident in Houston underscores these dangers. A popular professor at Rice University was hit and killed by a light rail car while on his bicycle on February 3rd, 2017. Light rail presents dangers to three groups that are not at risk with subways or elevated trains. These groups are:

  • Bicyclists, who share the road with light rail
  • Car and truck drivers, who also share the road with light rail
  • Pedestrians, who must cross light rail tracks

Of these groups, bicyclists are at the highest risk of an accident occurring. Because of the comparatively higher rate of speed of bicyclists compared to pedestrians, and because bicyclists actually share the road with this type of mass transit, they are more likely to be at risk of being struck by a light rail car.

Though in most communities there are safety protocols in place, these protocols are sometimes insufficient to ensure safety or are not followed at all times. If you or someone you love has been injured in a mass transit accident, determining whether protocols were followed or sufficient is of prime importance. Please contact an experienced attorney who will know the right questions to ask to get the answers you need.