| Read Time: 3 minutes | auto

Safe Driving Tips You Need to Know

If you’ve got a license and are out on the road regularly you have probably broken some traffic laws subconsciously. Have you ever rolled through a stop sign because no one else was around? Or sped even five miles over the limit? Ever checked your phone or sent out a quick text while at the wheel? These are only a few of the many causes of car accidents in the U.S. Small road violations can lead to big accidents, even if you think no one else is around. Safe driving is important even when no one else is looking or the violation may seem small. Here are some eye-opening statistics regarding vehicle accidents in the United States: 40,000 accidents result in death each year 90 deaths per day Accidents resulting in permanent injuries reaches 2 million a year Fatal injury accidents happen more on the weekends 1,600 kids under the age of 15 die every year in some sort of vehicle accident These high numbers mean that you could be a part of these statistics. We share this information not to scare you, but to help protect you and your loved ones. Safe Driving Tips We’ll start with the obvious – wear your seat belt! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 because drivers and passengers made the smart decision to click their seat belt. Everyone should know that if you are using your phone behind the wheel, you’re not driving safely. In most states, it is illegal to even be on your phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Of all the accidents that occur each day, the National Safety Council reports that 1 in every 4 accidents is caused by a driver distracted by his or her cell phone. Another important safe driving tip – never get behind the wheel when you have been drinking or may be under the influence of any kind of drugs or alcohol. This is also important for those times when you may be on a new medicine. Age Can Be a Factor Another important thing to note is that people between the ages of 16 and 19 are at a much higher risk of being in an accident than those who are older. About 8,000 young people are killed in auto accidents between the ages of 16 and 20. One of the most terrifying moments in a parent’s life, but exciting for most teens, is the day they get their license and are finally able to hit the open road without a parent or guardian in the front seat next to them. This is why it is extremely important to go over road safety if you have a teen receiving their license. Tell your kids to wear their seat belt, put their phones down, and never, ever get behind the wheel if they have consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs, even if they think they are “okay to drive.” Hopefully, they will pass along the lessons they learn to their friends, too. Next time you get behind the wheel, remember these statistics and remind yourself that safe driving takes priority over speed and convenience. If you have been involved in an auto accident, Gerling is here to help. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Dog Bite Accidents

Did a dog bite you?

Owning a dog is a great responsibility, but also a great joy. Many people are now choosing to adopt dogs in place of having children. We have coined phrases like “dog mom” or “fur baby” to describe a person who owns a dog. But with the joys of adopting a dog comes the responsibility of making sure the dog does not bite. Despite how well a dog might be trained, they still have animal instincts deep inside their DNA. All it takes is one bad moment for those instincts to be triggered and activated. Dog bites, no matter the level of severity, can be extremely dangerous. Any size of a dog bite can quickly become infected. Think about all the germs a dog can pick up in a day. From running around outside, being around other animals, etc. An infected bite can lead to so much more medically. Not only this, sometimes when a dog bites a human, it is deemed too aggressive and is put down. This can be devastating for the family who owned the dog. How often does this happen? The Centers for Disease Control reports an average 4.7 million dog bites annually in the United States. Of those 4.7 million, 17% of those bites result in medical attention needing to be sought. At first, that 17% may not seem like a large number. However, what if you were a part of that 17%? What if a dog bit your small child? That 17% then becomes a real statistic to you. Knowledge is the best way to avoid one of these harmful attacks, so let’s take a look at the reasons why dogs bite. Why do dogs bite? Most of the time, dogs will bite in response to stressful situations, or times when they feel threatened. Some dogs may bite in order to protect their puppies or owners. Even the most obedient dogs will growl if you come near them while eating, because dogs are wired to protect their food and what is theirs. Dogs can have bad days just like humans. Simply feeling unwell can give them a reason to bite. It is also common for dogs to bite playfully when roughhousing, therefore it is important to educate young children not to be rough with dogs. Dogs may not understand to be gentler with children. Being aware and knowledgeable about these situations will better protect you, your children and your dog, if you’re an owner. Take precautions. As an owner, you should ensure your dog is well-trained before heading out in public. Especially if it is a situation where small children may be present. Kids don’t always know that every dog is not a nice puppy. And unfortunately, parents aren’t watching their kids all the time. It would benefit you as an owner to train your dog well and keep them close by on a leash when out in public. A lot of times when a dog bites, it does not end well for the dog, even if it is the first time the dog has bitten. If you see someone approaching your dog, whether a child or adult, make sure you are watching your dog and observing their behavior. Any kind of unsettling environment could add an edge to your dog’s behavior, resulting in a dog bite. Prevention tips. Do not make loud noises Do not run away quickly in panic If attacked, try to get into the fetal position, protecting your neck and head Do not approach a dog with puppies Do not make direct eye contact with a dog you do not know Helpful Information While this may seem a bit overwhelming, there are plenty of great resources available for you and your family to better arm yourself with knowledge. One of these resources is FluentWoof, a website dedicated to giving dog moms and dads knowledge and guidance so they can better know their pups. This article written by Dr. Libby Guise has plenty of information regarding dog bites, including warning signs, what to do after a bite, infection risks, and much more. Having this abundance of information at hand could be beneficial to you and your family should the unfortunate accident of a dog bit ever happen. Following these tips as an owner or as a bystander can greatly increase your chance of safety and help you avoid dog bites. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | safety

Spring Safety: Did you know these facts?

Happy first day of spring! When springtime falls upon us, it brings with it many wonderful things; blossoming flowers, more sunshine, warmer weather, and the opportunity to spend time outdoors. However, did you know springtime also means an increase in accident rates? When the temperature rises, more people are likely to be outside walking, running, or doing other activities. As a result, this means more folks closer to the roads and quite possibly on them. To better protect yourself and your loved ones, we have put together some information about spring safety. Bike riding and pedestrian safety There are many activities that gain attention during the springtime weather. One of these is bike riding. This is an activity that can be done alone or as a family. Most likely, you have probably come across people riding their bikes on busy roads. Make sure if you are the one driving a vehicle to slow down around bike riders. If you need to move around them, double-check that the other lane is clear before going around. You can find more bicycle safety in related blogs here. Another activity that sees a rise in participants when it warms up is walking/running. As you drive down your neighborhood streets, keep an eye out for those who may be taking a family stroll or jogging by themselves. Just as it is for bicyclists, make sure you slow down if you near a pedestrian. That being said, if you are a bicyclist or pedestrian, you have responsibility, too. If you’re riding a bike, it is very important you signal. Signals can be made with just one hand in the direction you plan on turning. If you are unsure of what those signals are, that’s okay! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a handy document explaining all the bike signals you’ll need to know. Even if you are not a bike rider, it is important to know these few signals in case you are on the road as a cyclist at the same time. Family safety Spring safety is especially important for those with little ones running around. If your family lives near a busy street, it might be worthwhile to invest in some form of fencing for your yard. This will allow any children and pets you have to roam freely within the boundaries of your yard. Further, ensure that they are always being supervised. Even small children can figure out how a gate works and could possibly slip out and into the street. To prevent any tragedies, it is important to keep an eye on the kiddos! Fun fact Did you know that the number of car accidents rise during the first few weeks of spring, following daylight savings? The ‘springing forward’ of the clocks has an effect on the human body. As a result, losing an hour of sleep means more tired drivers on the road. Fatigue is a very common form of distracted driving. Therefore, more accidents. Remember if you’re on the road, don’t drive if you’re exhausted. Keep an extra eye out for any unexpected road hazards during the darker times of the day. That being said, spring safety is a number one priority for us here at Gerling, and it should be for you, too. However, if the unfortunate happens and you do experience an accident or personal injury, you’ll need an attorney on your side. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Fatal Accidents

Semi-Truck Safety – Avoiding a Huge Accident

When you’re on the road driving, safety should be your #1 concern. However, when you’re in a hurry and you get stuck behind a semi-truck, it can sometimes be inconvenient. Despite this inconvenience, it is important to follow semi-truck safety when behind the wheel. You might think that safety with semi-trucks is solely the responsibility of the truck driver. However, that is inaccurate. As a driver, it is your duty to practice safe driving when operating a vehicle. This includes being in control of possible road rage when near a semi on the road. In 2018, 67% of those who died in an accident involving a semi-truck were passengers of another vehicle. This is mostly because an 18-wheeler is obviously a lot larger than the average family vehicle. How can you practice semi-truck safety? There are many things you can do on the road to protect you and your loved ones. When it comes to pulling around semi-trucks, make sure you have plenty of space behind you before merging in front of a semi-truck. On average, it will take a semi-truck 40% longer to stop than it would a car. If weather conditions are bad, it can be up to a quarter mile. Also ensure you are putting plenty of distance in between you and the back of a semi. If the truck suddenly stops, you may not be prepared and could rear end it. Or, the person behind you could push you into the truck. The more space between you and the semi, the better. Following these tips can help protect you and the truck drivers as well. You can better your chances of avoiding a bad accident with a semi by simply being more aware of the distance and space between you and a semi-truck. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Birth Injuries

Is a birth injury 100% avoidable? Nearly always.

Some say there is no greater joy in the world than becoming a parent. After nine months of excitement and emotion, all you could want as a soon-to-be parent is a healthy and safe delivery. However, what happens when someone else’s negligence leads to your precious baby having a birth injury? The last thing you’ll want to worry about is having to seek justice for your innocent newborn because of someone else’s carelessness. We are here to help. Here are some things you should keep in mind if you’re expecting. Truth in numbers While you may think a birth injury is unlikely to happen to you, let’s look at the alarming statistics. Approximately 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury every year That is 1 in every 9,714 births 76 babies per day are born with some form of a birth injury Over 150,000 birth injuries occurred between mothers and babies during childbirth in 2006 (all avoidable) So, what can you do to best protect yourself and your unborn child? First, make sure you trust your OBGYN and their staff. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or as if they are not taking your health seriously, it may be time to find a new doctor. Birth injuries occur more often in tool-assisted births. This means the use of forceps or a ventouse (vacuum). Although safe births can happen with the use of these instruments, it is vital to discuss with your doctor why/if these are necessary for your delivery. Birth injuries or birth defects? Sometimes, it can be hard to determine whether or not the issue is a birth injury or a birth defect. And while birth injuries can sometimes happen despite all the proper steps taken, it is vital to make sure you have all the information. Lack of oxygen during birth can lead to conditions like cerebral palsy. However, it can also be the result of a birth defect. A birth defect is something that cannot be avoided, and is not the result of a doctor’s negligence. Who is liable? You might be wondering who is responsible for an injury inflicted during birth. Anyone whose care you are under, whether that be a nurse, OBGYN, family doctor, or other hospital staff can be held liable. The hospital as a whole can also be liable for its employees’ actions. When the day your baby arrives finally comes, make sure you feel comfortable and safe with your delivery team. And, if at any moment, you think you are being given the less-than-standard care that you deserve, it might be time to seek legal consultation. We can help. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | auto

Car seat safety – there's an 85% chance you're doing it wrong

Ensuring protection for yourself while operating a vehicle is usually a top priority – buckle your seat belt, look before merging, etc. But what about the others in the car with you, like children? Each state has very specific laws about car seat safety in regards to children. Let’s take a look to better protect the little ones you love. Indiana It is encouraged to keep an infant rear-facing for as long as possible. Legally, those under a year old and less than 20 pounds have to be rear-facing. Once your baby reaches a year old and 20 lbs. you may opt for a front-facing seat using an internal harness. Harness straps should be secure and snug at the armpit level. Indiana State Police suggest keeping your child in a front-facing seat with harness until they reach 40 lbs. Then, your young one can graduate to a booster seat until the age of eight, as long as they meet certain weight requirements. Kentucky In Kentucky, car seat safety laws are similar to Indiana. Infants must remain in a rear-facing seat until the age of one or upon reaching the weight of 20 lbs. When your child reaches 40 lbs. or the age of 4, they may move up to a booster seat. Once they turn 8, or becomes over the height of 57 inches, they may get rid of the booster seat and only use a seat belt. It is important to enforce seat belt safety with your children. It can be the difference between life or death. Illinois In Illinois, infants and toddlers under the age of 2 must be secured into a rear-facing car seat. However, if they are 40 lbs. and 40 inches they may advance to a front-facing seat with a harness. Once the height and weight requirements for the manufacturer is met, children may move on to a booster seat. Booster seats in Illinois are recommended for children ages 7-12. You might be thinking 12 seems a little too old, but this suggestion is due to the fact that some 12-year-olds might not have grown enough to safely fit into an adult seat belt. Following these car seat safety laws can be vital to the safety of your children or other little loved ones you may be transporting. While you may be a safe driver, that can’t be said for everyone on the road. Taking these laws seriously and ensuring the protection of young children is extremely important. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | safety

How to Create a Safe Construction Working Environment

When you’re working in a construction zone, accidents are bound to happen, although they need not be as frequent if you heed the proper advice. Construction accidents often result from negligence that can easily be remedied. Should an injury occur due to workplace negligence, get in touch with a Construction Accident Attorney in nearby Evansville, Indianapolis, Louisville, or Owensboro legal office. Avoid an injury while on the job by implementing the following advice. Open Up Lines of Communication Construction sites are dynamic and loud places that aren’t conducive to communication. Such an obstacle means that construction workers need to go above and beyond in their attempts at communication. The day should begin and end with everyone aware of their responsibilities for the day so that everyone is on the same page. If any minor or major changes have taken place in regards to heavy machinery, everyone on site must be alerted at the beginning and throughout the day. Wear Protective Equipment Hard hats, gloves, work boots, and protective vests must be worn at all times. This will significantly reduce the number of on-site injuries. While many construction workers already wear the aforementioned equipment, the practice isn’t as standard as it should be. Should an unjust injury occur, get in touch with the best Personal Injury Attorney in your area. Observe Breaks Those doing heavy lifting throughout the day are in need of breaks more than various other types of workers. Breaks should be encouraged if not enforced. Every employee should be required to drink a certain amount of water and report any feelings of unnatural fatigue to a superior. Always Be Cognizant Even if the aforementioned steps are taken, accidents will still inevitably happen. It’s vital that all on-site workers are aware of what’s going on around them at all times. Double and triple check to see that the proper procedures are being observed. Being overly cautious will only help to decrease workplace injuries.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | safety

How to Interact With a Stranger’s Dog

People often take for granted the safety in petting a stranger’s dog. The fact of the matter is that while some dogs welcome being stroked from a new person, others may need a moment or two to be acquainted before fawning may commence. To ensure your safety be sure to follow these steps so as to avoid any awkward K9-human interactions. Don’t Base Friendliness on the Type of Breed It’s tough to imagine a Golden Retriever ever chomping down on anything other than a frisbee or tennis ball, yet sometimes even the unimaginable happens. Golden Retrievers are widely considered the all-American dog. However, simply because they’ve adopted the archetype of the amiable human loving dog doesn’t make it so for all pooches of this breed. Dogs have intricate histories that usually consist of being cared for by multiple owners. Understand that it’s how a dog has been treated, not what breed they are that bestows them with their character. Observe From Afar If the dog’s owner is clearly not letting people go near the pooch, it’s safe to say that the dog isn’t ready to be touched by strangers. On the flip side, if the dog is being mobbed by adoring fans he or she is probably up for a quick belly rub. Ask the Owner You wouldn’t start playing with another person’s possessions without asking, would you? In our society, we’ve deemed it more or less socially acceptable to pet another’s dog without asking. However, such a habit can create awkward if not unfortunate situations. Simply asking the owner of one of the many dogs from the Owensboro-Evansville area if you can pet it will create less unfortunate situations. When In Doubt Call a Dog Bite Attorney If the aforementioned steps are followed, and you’re still bitten by a dog, you may have legal grounds to receive compensation for your injury. Recovering from a dog bite can be a painful and embarrassing situation. Seek financial compensation through litigation in order to make a smooth recovery.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | safety

Summertime Means Water Safety

Do you remember the first time you were in the deep end of a swimming pool? Maybe you ventured into the deep end on your own, or maybe you were tossed in by a prankster (or well-meaning adult), but chances are that your first experience with deep water was a little scary. In terms of personal safety, how you are able to handle yourself in deep water is the baseline for water safety skills, according to the American Red Cross. Now that warm weather is finally upon us and area pools will be opening soon, it’s a good time to talk about swimming and water safety. Whether you enjoy floating in a pool, fishing on the lake, or skiing in the river, practicing basic water safety can help make your summer more pleasurable. Basic Swimming Skills The purpose of basic swimming skills is to get you out of a dangerous situation in the water. Drowning is a quiet killer – it’s not like it’s depicted in the movies. Every day, ten people lose their lives to drowning, and two of those ten are children. In truth, more than half of Americans cannot swim well enough to save themselves. For African-Americans and Latino/Hispanic children, the numbers are even more frightening: up to 70% of African-American and 58% of Hispanic children cannot swim. And children who cannot swim often become adults who cannot swim. According to a Red Cross poll, 80% of adults claim to be able to swim, and yet 44% of them would fail a basic swimming test. That basic swimming test includes: Stepping or jumping into water over your head Returning to the surface and float or tread water for one minute Turning around in a full circle Swimming 25 yards (the length of a standard swimming pool) Exiting from the water without using a ladder This is what is known as “water competency” and this very basic level of ability could mean the difference between surviving and drowning. General Water Safety Spending time on and in the water is regarded as one of life’s greatest pleasures. In order to make this experience the best it can be, the American Red Cross has compiled a list of general water safety tips: Learn to swim Never swim alone – always swim with a buddy Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard Obey all rules and posted signs Children and inexperienced swimmers should use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device in and around the water – foam pool noodles and armband-style “floaties” do not count Do not swim if you are too tired, too cold, too far from safety, had too much sun, or too much strenuous activity Establish water safety rules for the whole family based on the swimming ability of each individual Understand the water environment you are in – deep and shallow areas, currents, and entry and exit points Keep an eye on the weather – storms are common in the summer and can pose danger for swimmers Enter the water feet first Head-first diving should only occur in areas marked for that purpose Do not drink alcohol – alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination, and affects your swimming and diving skills Keep a watchful eye for emergencies, and know how to respond – knowing what to do to help a person in trouble as well as learning basic lifesaving techniques like CPR is invaluable A Word About Lifeguards You may think that just because you are swimming in a pool that has lifeguards that you don’t need even basic swimming skills. While lifeguards are tasked with keeping a watchful eye on the swimmers in their charge and have been trained in basic lifesaving skills, the truth is, lifeguards are the last line of defense against drowning.Your best defense is to learn to swim. Learning to swim is a confidence builder and, potentially, a life saver – and it’s never too late to learn. At Gerling Law, we hope everyone will learn and follow water safety rules, and have a fun, safe summer.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | safety

On Track for Safety: Avoiding Train Accidents

Every three hours, a person or vehicle in the United States is hit by a train. While some of these accidents occur at train crossings, a larger portion of fatalities occur when people or vehicles stray onto private railroad property. Walking the rails as a shortcut between Point A and Point B can be a very dangerous and deadly proposition, as we have seen locally in recent months. Trespassing on Railroad Property We’ve all seen it in the movies – a traveler setting off on a journey by following a set of railroad tracks or hopping an empty boxcar for a ride. As romantic as this notion might seem, in reality it’s illegal and dangerous. Railroad tracks are actually private property, owned and managed by the railroad companies. Only authorized personnel should be on the tracks, and the general public should only cross the tracks at designated train crossings. Passive Warning Signs vs. Active Warning Devices How a railroad crossing is marked can depend on its location. Most public crossings have a minimum of passive warning signs, such as crossbucks, yield signs, stop signs, and pavement markings. Some public crossings, particularly those with a high traffic volume, are equipped with crossing arms, which are activated when a train triggers a switch at a specific point on the rail line. These active warning devices stop traffic from entering the tracks by creating a barrier; once the crossing arms activate, a train will be entering the intersection within 20 seconds. The Physics of Trains Freight trains can travel at speeds up to 60 miles per hour and can be 1 to 1 ¼ miles in length (90 to 120 cars). Because of their size and length, it can seem that trains are moving much more slowly than they actually are. However, a train consisting of 100 cars, moving at 55 MPH, can take up to a mile to come to a complete stop – that’s nearly the length of 18 football fields! What’s more, the path of a train is limited to its rails – it can’t veer in another direction in the same way a vehicle can. The size and physical nature of trains is the primary reason they have the right of way in a traffic situation. Things to remember Trains have the right of way, since they cannot stop quickly. Railroad tracks are private property – if you are on or near the tracks at any other location than at a crossing, you are trespassing. The contact surface between train wheels and the rail is only about the size of a dime. This small area of contact means less friction available to aid in stopping. All drivers are required by law to stop completely at a rail crossing when the lights are flashing; drivers must wait until the approaching train has cleared the crossing before proceeding across the tracks. It is against the law to drive around lowered crossing gates; you must either wait or drive to another crossing where the lights and/or gates are not engaged. Federal law requires that all trains sound their horn at all highway-rail grade crossings. It is against the law to stop a vehicle on a railroad crossing. If your vehicle stalls on a railroad crossing, get out immediately, move away from the tracks, and call 911. Hazards at railroad crossings can be reported directly to the railroad by calling the 800 number posted on signage located at the crossing, or by dialing 911. Never, ever, try to beat a train. It’s a race you will lose. When a vehicle or pedestrian is hit by a train, the legal ramifications of that event hinge largely on who was at fault. If a signal or crossing arm fails to operate, the railroad could be at fault. If the injured party violated any traffic laws (such as attempting to snake through a crossing with the gates down) or was trespassing on railroad property, fault may lie with the victim. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a train, contact an attorney. Determining fault requires a careful examination of all the facts, something that an experienced attorney will do prior to deciding if you have a case. Better yet – avoid mixing it up with a train. Stay off the tracks and away from railroad property except where the tracks and roadway intersect. When the red lights begin to flash and the crossing arms come down at a railroad intersection, resist the temptation to snake through the gates to the other side. No one likes waiting on a train, especially when you’ve got places to be, but those crossing arms are there to keep you out of harm’s way.

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