Railroad Crossing Accidents Caused by “19th Century Technology” | Ellis Injury Law

Railroad Crossing Accidents Caused by “19th Century Technology”

Metrolink at LA station

March 6, 2015

Ellis Law Corporation


Recent train tragedies have once again highlighted the hazards found at railroad crossings in California and across the country. The legal team at Ellis Law wants to warn motorists that these accidents are more common than many realize, and more needs to be done to minimize the potential dangers. Unfortunately, changes and improvements appear to be slow in coming, as those responsible for railroad infrastructure struggle to find the resources necessary to make much needed enhancements to these busy intersections.

Metrolink accident turns deadly

On February 24, a collision between a truck and Metrolink train left one person dead and nearly 30 more injured. The accident, which occurred at the Rice Avenue crossing in Oxnard, was not the first for this location, which had the unfortunate distinction of hosting more accidents than any other railroad crossing in Ventura County between 2009 and 2013. In fact, the Rice Avenue crossing had been on the list of locations where officials had considered a grade separation to make the crossing safer.

This Los Angeles train derailment came on the heels of another deadly crash in New York that took the lives of six. In this accident, a Metro-North train collided with an SUV that stopped on the tracks in the path of the approaching train. Although the train engineer used the emergency brake in an effort to stop, the train traveled nearly 1,000 feet with the vehicle pinned to its nose. The driver of the SUV was killed, as well as five train passengers when a fire broke out in one of the train’s cars.

Railroad crossing accidents increasing

According to a report at Insurance Journal, accidents at railroad crossings have been on a steady increase in recent years, with more than 2,000 reported collisions at grade crossings in 2013. In 2014, 239 fatalities were associated with railroad crossing accidents. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) referred to the Oxnard accident in a report at The Hill, stating that too many crossings across the country are relying on “19th century technology” to keep motorists and train passengers safe.

Blumenthal has introduced legislation to Congress that would increase funding to allow the Federal Railroad Administration to improve safety at railroad crossings.

Money does appear to be the primary obstacle standing in the way of making railroad crossings safer. The Los Angeles Times reported that officials have been seriously eying improvements at California crossings since a 2005 Glendale accident where a Metrolink train crashed into an SUV, killing 11 and injuring 177 in a horrific chain of events. Unfortunately, the following decade has not seen many of the improvement plans come to fruition, primarily because of lack of funding.

Safety improvements inconsistent

Although counties throughout Southern California have invested more than $3 billion in safety features since that 2005 tragedy, improvements have been inconsistent throughout the area. While Orange County has seen significant enhancements, like warning system upgrades and technology to detect vehicles on the tracks, Ventura County, where the recent accident took place, has seen few changes. That is because Ventura County doesn’t have special transportation tax revenue Orange County has, which gives Ventura less leverage in securing state and federal grants for improvements.

Speak with a Los Angeles railroad crossing accident lawyer

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, 42 people were killed in the state in railroad crossing accidents in 2012. The attorneys at Ellis Law want California residents to know if they are injured in one of these accidents, they may need the help of a train accident attorney to protect their rights and help them pursue any damages they might be entitled to. Our legal team is ready to help those injured in a train accident in Los Angeles and hold those responsible legally liable.

For a free case evaluation, contact Ellis Law today at 310-641-3335.