October 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- When a train approaches a railroad crossing, barriers and sounds are supposed to warn crossing traffic. Despite the warning, though, train accidents continue to occur at crossings and along other portions of the rail network in Texas. To help prevent the risk of train accidents, the federal government required railroad companies to outfit their tracks with certain collision-avoidance technology; however, the requirement was recently relaxed due to cost concerns, which may have a detrimental impact on public safety.
Train Crash Prompts Greater Safety Controls
In 2008, a fatal train crash in California killed more than two dozen people and, in response, the federal government passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requiring railroad companies to install crash-avoidance technology on rail lines by 2015. The technology is referred to as positive train control, and the system helps stop or slow trains in order to prevent crashes.
Under the federal measure, railroad companies were required to install the technology on their railways unless the Federal Railroad Administration granted an exemption based on a risk analysis of the track. While railroad companies were given seven years to install the crash-avoidance technology on their rails, some in the industry questioned whether the technology would be available by the deadline, and others argued the technology would be an expensive solution for an extremely low safety risk.
In 2010, the Federal Railroad Administration estimated it would cost railroads around $13.2 billion to install and maintain the system over 20 years, and since the estimate the costs of positive train control has gone up. Last year the FRA proposed the exemption of 14,000 miles of track, but a White House initiative to identify and remove regulations deemed excessively burdensome, over costly, unnecessary or out of date led to the recent relaxation of the mandate.
Rail Safety Regulations Relaxed
Under the relaxed mandate, railroads will not have to add positive train control to lines that do not carry passengers or toxic materials, and the change affects about 10,000 miles of track. The lower standard will also save the railroad industry as much as $335 million in five years and $775 million in 20 years. In addition, the railroad industry is pushing for an extension of the 2015 deadline.
Despite the changes, the railroad industry claims it still wants to work with federal regulators to install the crash-prevention technology to ensure the safety of passengers and toxic freight. Moreover, federal safety officials are also behind the change. Commenting on the new standard, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the changes "provide significant regulatory relief while ensuring safety remains our highest priority." While the relaxation of the standard is a clear trade-off between cost and risk, the change may still come at the expense of accidents and injuries, especially to vehicle occupants and individuals who make regular crossings where non-toxic freight travels.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a train accident in Texas, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can guide you toward legal recovery.
Article provided by Jim Ross & Associates, P.C.
Visit us at http://www.jimrossinjurylaw.com---
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