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Indiana Had 5th Most Vehicle-Meets-Train Accidents in 2016

Jason Reese


  • Train traffic in Indiana has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2015. At that time, train companies had received the authority to up train traffic around central Indiana.
  • Indianapolis residents have told a local news authority that they are done with the ongoing train delays that cause traffic nightmares and put drivers at risk when the trains stop on the tracks.
  • Although the state has received funding to make rail-stop crossings safer, the extra traffic may be contributing to the 10 fatal motor-vehicle-meets-train accidents that occurred in Indiana in 2016.
  • Our attorneys agree with the residents and yes, Northwest Indiana needs a lot of work to reduce the amount of train crossings accidents we hear about each year. Until that work happens though, it is the job of both train operators and motorists to obey the law and help prevent a tragic accident from occurring.

More Trains Could Mean More Traffic Accidents for Indianapolis

The Wagner Reese team came across an eye-opening news story by News 8 in regard to the up in train traffic around Indianapolis. The residents who were interviewed said, “they’re fed up with trains that sometimes cause traffic nightmares and that they feel like more trains are coming through and are stopping on the tracks in the middle of heavy traffic.” Some of the residents interviewed had even stated that they have been stopped for over an hour by a freight train parked across a major intersection and felt in danger of oncoming traffic.

While Indiana lawmakers have been busy trying to improve crash-prone rail intersections with the help of House Bill 1002, Operation Lifesaver reported that the Hoosier state was home to 10 fatal motor vehicle-meets-train accidents in 2016, ranking fifth highest in the nation. Lawmakers agree, northwest Indiana will need the most work because of the current heavy congestion and at-risk crossings responsible for dozens of accidents each year. In 2015, the Surface Transportation Board approved an agreement that would allow train operators to run up to 34 trains per day on the rail line between Indianapolis and Sidney, OH.

Who Is Responsible for a Railroad Related Crash?

Indiana law says all motorists are supposed to stop between 15 and 50 feet from the nearest railroad tracks before proceeding. But even with laws in place to reduce train vs. car crashes, there may be a case for wrongful death such as:

  • Even if a stop sign is in place, it may not be visible. In fact, the tracks, or an approaching train, itself may not be visible in the dark.
  • There might not be any crossbars in place at the crossing. Although railroad crossings without crossbars are common in some places, it may still be reasonably argued that the absence of crossbars, combined with poor lighting, made the driver oblivious to the danger. Indiana law mandates that the Indiana Department of Transportation co-ordinate with the railroad and the municipality to take all possible precautions to ensure safety at crossings.
  • Indiana law requires the railroad to equip the locomotive engine with a whistle, and a bell, and the driver to sound the whistle on the engine distinctly at least four times before reaching the crossing. If this is not done properly, motorists may be unaware of the approaching train.
  • Like vehicles, trains also have speed limits. In some accidents, victims have alleged that the train was above the permissible speed limits. This can be difficult to prove and a situation in which an experienced attorney can help.

We will continue to follow these types of stories and routinely review and share factors related to accident prone areas in Indianapolis. In the meantime, don’t forget to abide by traffic laws and operate your motor vehicle correctly to prevent a tragic accident with a train.

Train Accident Lawyers Who Can Help

Train companies have powerful insurance companies, so if you or a loved one are injured in a collision with a train, it is critical to employ an experienced attorney. This is one scenario in which you do not want to find yourself alone, especially if you are healing or grieving. The auto accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have spent decades working on cases like these for vulnerable clients and their families. Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation or speak with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information.


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