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Can Positive Train Control Save Lives?

America’s railroad industry is attempting to address human errors with the aim of promoting railway safety and prevent accidents with a new technological advancement called Positive Train Control (“PTC”).

Enhancing Railway Safety

The Association of American Railroads (“AAR”) reports that every 40 cents of each dollar of revenue is placed in funds allocated for railroad improvements. This adds up to billions of dollars over the past three decades. The most recent result of this practice has caused the development of a new technology referred to as Positive Train Control (“PTC”). PTC is used to promote the prevention of accidents and railway safety.

PTC works just like new crash prevention technology that is used in passenger vehicles. The train’s PTC includes sensors that are able to detect an impending crash and even stop the train prior to the accident. The federal Rail Safety Improvement Act (“RSIA”), created in 2008, mandated that all passenger railroad lines and all class I freight railroad lines transporting toxic materials install PTC by the end of 2015. Several extensions were issued, however, which expired in 2020.

Positive Train Control

There are several goals of PTC focusing on the prevention of safety issues that are common in the railroad industry. These include:

  • Train-to-train collisions;
  • Human errors;
  • Track switches;
  • Train derailments;
  • Track maintenance;
  • Train-to-vehicle collisions.

The largest percentage of railroad accidents and injuries seen by personal injury attorneys are caused by human error. In fact, in 2017 as many as 38% of train accidents in the United States were caused by human error. Many train accidents are caused by excessive speed, train derailments, train-to-train collisions, and trains averted to different tracks. The purpose of PTC is to stop trains from being steered to sections of the railroad track where maintenance is happening and prevent trains from moving to the incorrect track that was changed to the wrong position. 

In order to work properly and prevent tragedies, however, PTC systems must be able to bring the train to a full stop if the train operator does not act in time (or at all). PTC systems must also have the ability to determine the precise direction, location, and speed of the train. It must also warn train operators of potential problems with the train.

Railroad Accident Injuries

Nevada has over 2,000 miles of active railroad lines. It is no surprise that the state experiences a significant number of train accidents. Train accidents involving passenger vehicles as well as freight trains happen every year. Train accidents happen due to several reasons. Under Nevada law, the at-fault party in a train accident can be held legally and financially responsible for damages to the victims involved. 

When a railroad company is held liable for a train accident in Nevada, the most common causes of the accident include:

  • Train conductor error;
  • Train derailments;
  • Excessive speed;
  • Overloaded train cars;
  • Faulty track signals; 
  • Poor train maintenance; and/or
  • Poor track maintenance. 

Nevada Attorneys

Train accidents can result in fatalities due to the sheer force of impact in a train crash. Nevada law allows wrongful death damages in cases where injury victims do not survive. The experienced attorneys at H&P Law will fight for the monetary compensation you deserve. 

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