After two Norfolk Southern trains derailed in Ohio in February and March 2023, people are starting to take more notice of train accidents occurring across the United States. It turns out that train accidents are more common than most people think.
In 2022 alone, there were over 1,100 train derailments around the country, which is an average of three derailments each day. When we started looking at those statistics, we also noticed another trend: that trains are colliding with semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles fairly often, which is alarming for us Tennesseans, as we are home to more than two dozen freight railroads.
Recent truck and train accidents in Tennessee and other nearby states
There have been several truck and train accidents recently making headlines in Tennessee and nearby states:
- In March 2023, a train crashed into a truck in Marion, Arkansas. The semi-truck was crossing the train tracks when the trailer became stuck. Even though the driver was able to unhook his trailer from the tractor unit, a train still struck part of the truck.
- In February 2023, another truck and train accident occurred because a tractor-trailer became stuck when crossing train tracks in Ringgold, Georgia. A train employee was injured and taken to the hospital.
- In February 2023, a dump truck was hit by a train in Ashland, Kentucky. The driver of the dump truck was killed in the accident. The reason for the accident is still being investigated.
- In January 2023, a commercial sod truck was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train in Nokesville, Virginia. One of the employees in the truck was airlifted to a hospital with severe injuries, and two others were transported to a nearby hospital. No one on the train was injured.
- In December 2022, a semi-truck crashed into a train in Collegedale, Tennessee. The train was carrying a concrete truss bridge beam and was waiting for the traffic light to change. When the collision occurred, 10 railroad cars and three locomotives derailed. Two train employees were injured in the accident and transported to the hospital.
- In October 2022, a semi-truck was hit by an oncoming train at a railroad crossing in Ravenel, South Carolina. The impact of the train sent the truck down the tracks about a half a mile. The semi-truck driver was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Why do truck and train accidents happen?
Most automobile drivers are intimidated when sharing the road with a semi-truck. This is completely normal, as a semi-truck is a lot larger and weighs more than a passenger vehicle. However, semi-trucks do not stand much of a chance when going up against a train. As a matter of fact, a train can weigh up to 44 million pounds, while a semi-truck only weighs up to 80 thousand pounds. That said, even the largest big rigs cannot withstand the massive force and impact of a train.
There are a variety of reasons why so many truck and train accidents occur. One of the main reasons is that a semi-truck needs more time than passenger vehicles to cross most railroad tracks. Therefore, if the truck driver does not make sure that they can clear the railroad tracks before a train approaches, they will most likely cause a collision. The following are a few other reasons that train, and truck collisions continue to happen:
- Distracted driving: When a truck driver does not give their full attention to driving at a railroad crossing, this can lead to an accident. They must keep their hands on the steering wheel and check their surroundings a few times before deciding to cross. However, if they are too busy listening to the radio or looking at their GPS or cell phone, they may not realize that a train is approaching and decide to proceed onto the tracks.
- Failure to notice warning signs: When you get close to railroad crossings, there is usually an X-shaped railroad warning sign. This is to encourage drivers to yield in case there is a train coming. If truck drivers do not notice the X-shaped sign or the crossing gates, they may cross in front of an oncoming train.
- Failure to avoid railroad crossings: It is a risk for semi-trucks to go over railroad tracks as they are prone to getting stuck. Therefore, if possible, truck drivers should try to take routes that avoid railroad crossings. This may reduce their risks of being involved in an accident.
- Gear issues: Truck drivers are only supposed to cross over railroad tracks in the lowest gear. Therefore, if they continue to drive in a high gear or even shift gears, they may cause their engine to stall. This can turn into a very dangerous and nerve-wracking situation.
The types of injuries that come from truck and train accidents
When a truck driver or train employee/passenger is involved in a collision, they will most likely experience catastrophic injuries. These types of injuries are sudden, severe, and permanent. Here are some of the most common types of injuries that arise from truck and train accidents:
- Spinal cord and back injuries
- Brain and skull injuries
- Amputations or loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Broken, fractured, or crushed bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Neck injuries and whiplash
If you have been involved in a truck or train accident due to someone’s negligence, you deserve compensation to cover your medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, mental trauma, and so much more. Our personal injury attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm take these cases seriously and will help you navigate the hurdles and challenges that may emerge. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. You can also visit our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville.