Three Die at Poorly Protected Railroad Crossing
Three young adults from Austell travelling to visit a family in Toccoa were killed in a violent crash last Friday at 9:45 p.m, while crossing railroad tracks near the Summit subdivision in Toccoa, the AJC reports. Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley said an Amtrak train was going 60 miles per hour when it T-boned the 2008 Mazda, pushing it 300 feet along the tracks before the car fell into a ravine and exploded. Authorities found no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role. The young adults, travelling at night, apparently did not see the train when they entered the unprotected crossing marked by a lone stop sign. Under Georgia law, railroads are permitted to cross public roadways but in doing so accept the “duty to maintain such grade crossings in such condition as to permit the safe and reasonable passage of public traffic.” Georgia Code Section 32-6-190.
Improper Roadway Maintenance Cases at Pope & Howard, P.C.
Pope & Howard, P.C. is experienced in handling matters arising from improper roadway and railroad crossing maintenance. According to the U.S. DOT, 5,800 vehicle-train crashes occur each year in the United States, most at railroad crossings. These accidents cause around 600 deaths and 2,300 injuries. More than 50% of the deadly accidents happen at crossings with passive or inadequate safety devices (often none at all!) While the precise circumstances of this crash and this railroad crossing are not fully clear, one has to wonder whether the railroad kept its end of the bargain. Most railroad crossings at least have flashing lights automatically triggered as the train approaches. The railroad’s decision to forego this relatively inexpensive safety device may have led to the deaths of these three young adults.