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Proper rail inspections essential to avoid train accidents

Safety is a paramount concern for Minnesota residents. While individuals take a number of steps to keep themselves and their families safe, there are some safety precautions that are not within their control. Accordingly, it is important that others who have the control and responsibility take the necessary steps.

A good example of this is with the maintenance of railroad tracks and crossings. Inspectors for railroad companies are responsible for maintaining the tracks, including searching for loose spikes, missing bolts, broken switches or other potential hazards that could lead to train accidents. Federal railroad regulations require these inspections to occur at a regular frequency, to ensure that rail safety is maintained.

If the proper maintenance steps are not taken, it can lead to devastating results. For instance, a number of trail derailments have occurred around the country in recent years, including a number involving train cars loaded with hazardous materials. Even the smallest of problems, like a tiny crack in the rail, can cause a derailment, which makes it vital that proper track maintenance is conducted. Broken rails are one of the top causes of train accidents, and many of the defects that cause these accidents are not properly identified during inspections.

While federal regulators and railroad companies are discussing new technologies that could better identify defects, those who are injured should understand they may have a right to legal relief. When railroad companies engage in negligent track maintenance, for example, those injured as a result may have a legal cause of action to hold the company responsible for its negligence. Accordingly, individuals who are injured in train accidents should understand their rights and what steps need to be taken to obtain relief.

Source: WDAY, "Minn. rail inspector's quest: Find the flaws, prevent an accident," Jan. 4, 2016

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