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Will technology reduce train derailments?

Over the years, train derailments have been a cause to worry for many. In New York, far too many train accidents make headlines. The Federal Railroad Administration released a report last year indicating that almost 11, 000 train accidents were reported during the year alone. Out of this, 805 people ended up losing their lives while almost 4000 ended up injured. This is a worrying trend considering that train travel is considered among the safest modes of transport.

So, just how can technology help reduce train derailments?

But before we get into the details on how, let’s first understand why trains derail.

Why trains derail

When moving, these behemoths have such a massive momentum that requires great energy and space to slow down or halt. A train derailment mostly occurs when a train disconnects from its tracks, whether because of human error, collision, fault in the tracks, speeding around a curve, cracked wheel, or a myriad of other causes.

How technology can help reduce train derailments

Here is the potentially lifesaving technology that is either already being used or set to roll out soon:

1. Cracked wheel detection

Broken wheels have always been a major cause of derailments. Many small cracks that are undetectable by current technologies always end up causing catastrophes. But now with high-tech sensors that capture ultrasound pictures of the train wheel and expose microscopic cracks, the danger of broken wheels derailment can be a thing of the past.

2. Positive train control tech

This technology is set to help stop trains automatically when they speed out of control especially around curves. With this tech, the train can still stop even if a driver misses a red light or a speed-limit signal.

3. Sensor-dropping drones 

Previously, firefighters had to personally deploy chemical sensors in order to determine which homes were affected by hazardous materials after a train carrying chemicals crashed. Now with the drone technology, the sensors can be dropped safely and keep firefighters out of harm.

Positive train control and sensor-dropping drones are already being adopted, but the cracked wheel detection tech will be rolled out soon.

Any kind of subway or train accidents can endanger passengers and bystanders. Injuries are often serious. If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a derailment or other form of mass transit wreck, it is important to work with an experienced train accident lawyer who has a strong command of this complex area of personal injury law. Our lawyers have helped many train accident victims obtain justice for their injuries.


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