Many Chicago commuters rely on the Metra train to get to and from the greater Chicago area suburbs to the downtown for work. As a result of our large transportation network, drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists frequently navigate through Metra train crossings. Although warning lights and gates are in place to prevent collisions, a number of Chicago area drivers are killed each year at train crossing. Due to the size and speed of commuter trains, Metra accidents can not only result in serious injuries, or even fatalities, but also impact others in their commute to and from the city. Accidents result in lengthy train delays and cancellations, due to post-accident safety inspections and clean-up.
According to NBC Chicago, a driver was killed on November 23, 2013 when a Metra train struck his car. Train number 2612 was on the Milwaukee District-North Line traveling to Fox Lake. The accident occurred in the city of Lake Forest at approximately 1:30 p.m. The train hit the car on the tracks near Old Mill Road, west of Illinois Route 43. Upon impact, the car was pushed about 100 yards south along the tracks. The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Police gathered information from witnesses. According to witnesses, the sedan was driving eastbound toward the tracks on Old Mill Road at the time that the warning lights and bells went off and the crossing gate lowered. The sedan attempted to drive around the gate and continue eastbound. Following the accident, train number 2612, the train involved in the incident, and outbound train number 2607, both mid-way through their route with passengers on board, were stopped on the tracks for several hours. Outbound trains had to turn around and return to the station.
Many people are injured or killed from train accidents every year. In fact, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, there have been 148,414 highway-rail collisions at both public and private crossings from 1981 – 2012. That’s an average of 4638 accidents per year over 32 years.
In the accident described above, even though it was the negligent actions of the driver (driving around the gates) that resulted in the train collision and ultimate fatality, that is not always the case, or these negligent actions at hand in this instance could have negatively impact others. For instance, debris from accidents is very dangerous. Metal or shattered glass could have hurt nearby pedestrians or workers, had there been any, near the tracks. Negligence on the side of the railway is a significant factor too. Although that appears to not be the case here, consider when gates do not lower over the crossing, and drivers and passengers are not made aware of an oncoming train. For that reason, it is always imperative that railways maintain the safety functions of the railroad and take precautionary measures to make the railroad safe so that everyone in the community, both on and off the train, remain safe and are aware to take caution.
Metra trains carry numerous passengers to and from the Chicago downtown on a daily basis. Train accidents, such as this one, pose dire consequences not only to the immediate victims, but can also negatively impact those in the near vicinity, including other cars and pedestrians waiting near the train tracks. If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a train accident, you can look to experienced and successful attorneys for help. Don’t hesitate to contact a Chicago personal injury attorney for a free consultation about your accident.