Texas Railroad Crossings Are the Most Dangerous in the Nation

Texas Railroad Crossings Are the Most Dangerous in the Nation

According to federal statistics, Texas can claim the tragic distinction of having the most railroad crossing collisions than any other state in the country. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that these horrific accidents can almost always be prevented.

The Federal Railroad Administration reports that of the 2,287 U.S. railroad grade crossing collisions in 2014, 287 were in Texas; more than double that in the second highest state, Illinois. Those Texas incidents resulted in 103 injuries and 20 deaths.

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand what happens when a speeding train hits a vehicle on the tracks. As Operation Lifesaver, a national rail safety advocacy group puts it:

The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons; it can weigh up to 6,000 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car. We all know what happens to a soda can hit by a car.

If you find yourself approaching a railroad crossing, whether it has a functioning crossing signal or not, keep in mind these additional facts and safety tips from Operation Lifesaver:

  • Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection.
  • All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; it’s illegal trespass and highly dangerous.
  • By the time a locomotive engineer sees a trespasser or vehicle on the tracks it’s too late. It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, the police and pedestrians.
  • A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark. If there are rails on the railroad ties always assume the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks unused.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes their cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled, which is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Today’s trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Any approaching train is always closer, moving faster, than you think.
  • Remember to cross train tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted there.
  • Stay alert around railroad tracks. No texting, headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation.

Sometimes, however, even the most cautious driver can find themselves in a devastating railroad crossing accident through no fault of their own. If the railroad company failed to erect or maintain signals or otherwise kept the property at or around a railway crossing in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous, it could be held liable for any injuries or damages sustained by a driver or pedestrian.

At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, personal injury lawyer Robert Greening aggressively fights for the rights of injury victims across Texas, including those injured at railroad crossings. If you or a loved one has been injured, please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Three Things to Do After You’ve Been Injured by a “Hit-and-Run” Driver

Three Things to Do After You’ve Been Injured by a “Hit-and-Run” Driver

Getting into an auto accident is bad enough. Getting into a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence or reckless driving is worse. Getting hit by a driver who immediately leaves the scene of the crash to avoid having to take responsibility and face the consequences of their conduct is infuriating.

Unfortunately, hit-and-run drivers are responsible for thousands of crashes, injuries, and deaths every year. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal hit-and-run incidents are increasing, from 1,274 deaths in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011.

While some hit-and-run drivers are ultimately found and held accountable both by the law and by those injured, sometimes they disappear completely, leaving victims with little recourse and no opportunity to seek justice and compensation.

So what should you do after you’ve been hurt in a hit-and-run accident?

  • Try to ID the car and the driver. It can be a tall order to try to get a bead on the other car or driver right after you’ve been hit and before they’ve sped away. But any information you can provide to the police may help them track down the driver.  Even if you can’t get a physical description or a license plate number, just the make and model of the car could useful in helping the cops find the offender and hold them to account for their conduct.  
  • Stay in touch with the police. The police want to find the driver as much as you do, so keep in touch with them to see if they’ve turned up anything. If they do apprehend the driver, they will charge them with a criminal offense. Texas increased the penalties for hit-and-runs in 2013, raising the crime from a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to a second-degree felony which could lead to a 20-year prison sentence, which is the same as for intoxicated manslaughter. Once the cops find the driver, you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against them as you would in any other auto accident case.
  • Make a claim with your car insurance company. Even if the police can’t find and identify the driver, you still may be able to obtain some compensation from your own insurance company through any uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage you have. While you are not required to have UIM coverage in Texas, if you did purchase UIM coverage it will include coverage for injuries or wrongful death caused by a hit-and-run driver.

At Greening Law, P.C., we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for car accident victims in Dallas and throughout Texas. Please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

New Texas Drunk Driving Law: First-Time DWI Offenders Now Need Ignition Interlocks to Stay on the Road

New Texas Drunk Driving Law

New Texas Drunk Driving Law First-Time DWI Offenders Now Need Ignition Interlocks to Stay on the Road. A new Texas law means that even first-time DWI offenders in Texas may find themselves installing ignition interlock devices on their cars if they want to keep driving.

We all know that we shouldn’t drink and drive and we all know that the consequences can be tragic. Every year, the lives of tens of thousands of Texans are catastrophically impacted by drunk driving. In 2013 alone, according to MADD:

  • 1,337 people were killed in drunk driving incidents in Texas, the most in the nation
  • 15,687 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes on Texas’ roads and highways
  • There were 25,479 alcohol-related accidents in the state
  • 99,195 people were arrested for DWI
  • 71,030 people were convicted for DWI

Many of those drivers charged or convicted for DWI were likely facing such charges for the first time. If no one was injured or killed, the penalties they faced for a first-offense DWI may not necessarily have included jail time, though the other consequences and the stain on their standing and reputation were hardly inconsequential.

But the injuries and deaths that can be caused by drunk driving are the same whether the driver has never faced DWI charges before or whether they have been convicted multiple times. That’s why even first-time offenders face a driver’s license suspension upon arrest.

As of September 1, 2015, however, those arrested for a first-offense Texas DWI can continue to drive so long as they install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive. The new law requires first-time DWI offenders whose blood alcohol content was under 0.15 percent to install these Breathalyzer-like devices in their cars if they apply to drive during the license suspension period after their arrest. The option is not available if the driver’s BAC was above 0.15 percent.

Previously, Texas law only required the installation of ignition interlocks for repeat DWI offenders who applied to drive after their second or subsequent arrest for DWI.

While it may seem like giving those suspected of DWI another way to get back on the road would increase the chances of more drunk driving incidents, MADD, which actively pushed for the new law, believes that requiring the devices will actually decrease the likelihood of new incidents because so many people whose licenses had been suspended were driving anyway. Now, the hope is that those wishing to stay on the road legally will opt for the interlocks which will keep their car from starting if their BAC is 0.08 or above. Let’s hope so.

If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident, whether caused by a drunk driver or not, you have rights which may include recovering compensation. At Greening Law, P.C. in Dallas, we are dedicated to protecting the rights and futures of those whose lives have been turned upside down due to injuries caused by others. Pease give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation. We look forward to assisting you.