Train Derailments: In the Holiday News

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A train derailment in the Bronx recently left many wondering how something so tragic could happen on a commute that had occurred many times before. With speeds in excess of 82 miles per hour in a zone that dictated 30 miles per hour on an area of the track where a curve rounded, what went wrong?

Train derailments are uncommon, so when they do happen many are left wondering how to proceed or even start an investigation. The National Traffic Safety Board investigates many factors of crashes involving airplanes, trains, boats and commercial vehicles. The investigation is a long process. Add the devastation and family tragedy to a long list of controversial issues about railroad technology and you have a case that you surely won’t want to tackle on your own.

Accidents of this magnitude always bring to the forefront issues like technology failure versus human error, what cold have been prevented, what should have been regulated, and what might have gone wrong. This recent accident in the Bronx killed 4 people and injured more than 60. Guidelines for railroad engineers allow them to carry cell phones, but not use those devices while operating a train. And, despite those regulations, 40% of train accidents are caused by human error. What types of human error can occur?

  • Drugs and alcohol on the part of the engineer or conductor
  • Distracted operators from cell phones, texting and GPS
  • Conductor and operator fatigue
  • Applying brakes and other cautionary measures to late in the game. In this particular crash, the brakes were only fully engaged five seconds before the crash. Typically, it takes that space of a quarter mile to a half mile to apply brakes that could cause a train moving at 82 miles per hour to come to a complete stop.
  • Conditions on the railway such as broken tracks, malfunction of operations for changing tracks, objects in the way on the track.

For some, this holiday commute ended in tragedy and the investigation will continue for many, many months to come. If you have been injured in a train derailment, or know someone who has been injured or died because of a train derailment, seeking the proper New York legal advice will be key in your finding the compensation and resolution you deserve.