A fatal accident earlier this month at an Eastern Oregon railroad crossing where collisions involving trains and vehicles have occurred in the past raises serious questions about corporate responsibility and road/rail safety.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (citing an article that originally appeared in the East Oregonian), a 63-year-old county worker died earlier this month “when a train struck a road grader on Canal Road south of Hermiston” in the Eastern part of the state. The worker was using the grader to spread gravel along one side of the tracks at the time of the accident. According to OPB “the train dragged the grader about 100 feet before it stopped.” The grader operator died at the scene of the Oregon train and car accident.
What makes this tragedy especially noteworthy are facts indicating it was ultimately preventable. As the article explains, at the crossing in question “motorists cannot see trains coming from the west until they emerge around a nearby curve. The crossing is uncontrolled, meaning it does not have traffic control arms.”
When one adds in the fact that there have been accidents involving vehicles at this particular crossing in the past it is difficult to avoid asking why the railroad company has not seen fit to install crossing arms in such an obviously dangerous location.
Private companies have a special responsibility to ensure that their products and services pose no threat to the public in situations where the public has no choice but to interact with the company – such as when a road crosses railroad tracks. From the perspective of an Oregon vehicle accident attorney it is especially important that ordinary citizens know that they have rights, and that they should not be intimidated by the rich or the powerful when it comes to claiming them. We all deserve to know we are safe when taking appropriate care as we cross train tracks. Doing so requires that the railways, too, take appropriate precautions concerning motorists’ safety.