Talk about a rough ride. Passengers that were on the Chicago Transit Authority railroad line train got a rude awaking when their train derailed and crashed through a barrier and up an escalator at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The cause of the railroad accident hasn’t been officially released but the train operator did say she was, “extremely tired.” She also said she had been working alot of overtime. The National Transportation Safety Board said earlier that investigators had not drawn any conclusions about the cause of the railroad accident. Some other possibilities for the train derailment could be faulty brakes or signals. But, if the railroad accident was caused by human error then why didn’t the kill switch stop the train? The kill switch activates when a train operator becomes incapacitated and his or her hand slips off the controls, the train then should come to a stop. A possible explanation, offered by the NTSB is that, upon impact, inertia may have thrown the train operator against the hand switch, accelerating it enough to send it catapulting onto the escalator.
It may be fair to say after this and other recent train derailments that the kill switch is not effective enough in stopping train accidents and injuries. Another mandated safety feature called positive train control is effective in stopping trains but has yet to be installed at many railroads. It becomes engaged when warnings to slow down or to stop a train go unnoticed by an engineer, the locomotive’s onboard computer will automatically apply the brakes after a certain amount of time, with the intention to prevent a collision and potentially save lives.
We may not yet know the cause of the train derailment but what we do know is that 32 people were injured during this railroad accident. That’s 32 mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters that ended up in the hospital instead of on an airplane. If you’ve been injured in a railroad accident, whether it’s on Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF or another carrier, and are wondering about what your next step should be, considering reading through some of the frequently asked questions prepared by attorneys at our railroad injury firm. The FAQs address some basic but important questions about railroad accident and injury claims.