Several of the most recent train accidents around Washington, D.C. and throughout the country were preventable. Most recently, investigators determined that the May 12 train derailment in Philadelphia could have been avoided had the railroads installed Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.
The automatic braking system has been deemed as the single-most important rail safety development in more than a century. That is why, in 2008, Congress ordered railroads to install the PTC technology by Dec. 31, 2015.
Although some of the largest railroads have made strides to update their locomotives with the new technology, several have made very little progress and have pushed back against the deadline in Congress, lobbying for the deadline to be extended to 2018.
The railroads largest concern is the cost that would be required to install the technology. Though it is an expensive upgrade, the number of lives that could potentially be saved by the technology is also substantial.
Since 1969, the National Transportation Safety Board has investigated 145 train accidents that could have been prevented by PTC. Those accidents killed a total of 288 people and injured 6,574.
Although the majority of people who have died in these accidents were crew members or passengers, one of the leading reasons for the push for the technology is the fear that the increasing number of trains carrying highly flammable material, like oil, could lead to a much larger catastrophe.
The recent domestic oil boom has increased the number of rail tank cars carrying flammable materials to 493,126 last year from 9,500 seven years ago. So far this year, seven trains have derailed, leaking their contents or exploding. Fortunately, they all happened in rural areas and caused little damage.
If these highly explosive trains were to derail in a major U.S. metropolis, the devastation could be massive. In July 2013, a Canadian freight train carrying oil, derailed in a Canadian town, killing 47 people and destroying 30 buildings in a fiery explosion.
The train accident attorneys at Goldberg Finnegan believe in a company’s obligation to protect the lives of its consumers. That is why we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of the injured.
If you are injured in a train accident, do not hesitate to contact our Maryland, Virginia or Washington, D.C., offices for a free consultation with an injury attorney to discuss your legal rights. Call (888) 213-8140 or complete a free case evaluation form.