Defensive driving can help prevent Joplin semi-truck accidents

January 22, 2015

old-truck-1228351-m.jpgResearch shows that accidents involving semi-trucks and passenger vehicles can be extremely dangerous, especially for passenger vehicle occupants, who are more vulnerable to serious, life-threatening injuries. So, what can you do to avoid being involved in a collision with a semi-truck? In this post, our Joplin truck accident attorneys discuss the importance of driving cautiously and defensively in order to prevent potentially disastrous and fatal accidents.

Did you know that 68% of truck accidents occur not in cities, but in rural areas? Jasper County and Newton County residents are by now well aware of the dangers involved in sharing the roads with big trucks, which weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 500,000 truck accidents happen every year, nationwide. Of this number, some 5,000 truck crashes result in fatalities. Of the total number of traffic fatalities each year in the United States, one out of eight involves a truck accident.

In a collision involving a large commercial truck, the drivers of cars, vans and SUVs are at a potentially fatal disadvantage. A tragic 98% of all trucking accident fatality victims are the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles. For this reason, it's essential that drivers of smaller vehicles learn to practice defensive driving around large commercial trucks.

Avoiding semi-truck accidents in Joplin: Defensive driving tips

• Stay alert on the highways, particularly when driving near big trucks.
• Watch out for semi- trucks and tractor trailers when they are turning, or entering/ exiting a highway.
• Slow down and give big trucks a wide berth and extra space in construction zones.
• Remember that large trucks need extra room in inclement weather. They simply cannot maneuver or stop the same way a passenger vehicle can.
• Avoid driving in a truck's blind spots - if the driver cannot see you, you are in danger.
• Never cut off a truck while passing, or drive aggressively to annoy an aggressive driver.

Continue reading "Defensive driving can help prevent Joplin semi-truck accidents" »

Help keep Joplin roadways safe: Don't drink & drive this holiday season!

December 23, 2014

drink-up-683800-m.jpgThe holiday season is here, bringing it with it the promise of celebrations with friends and loved ones. If your holiday plans include alcohol - even in small amounts - we want to urge you to take precautions to help keep Missouri roadways safe. In this post, our Joplin car accident lawyers discuss a few little-known facts about drinking and driving.

Common questions about alcohol and its effect on the human brain:

Q: How many drinks does it take for a person to become impaired?
A: It depends on the person. Your blood alcohol content - and the rate at which it rises - can be affected by several different factors, including rate of consumption, weight, amount of fat tissue, and stomach contents. Also, gender can play a role, since men and women process alcohol differently. Suffice to say, under certain circumstances, an individual can become severely impaired after having just a few drinks.

Q: Is it better to drink beer or wine as opposed to hard liquor?
A: The amount of alcohol you consume determines how impaired you are, not the type of drink you're having. A 12 ounce beer, a 4 ounce glass of wine, and 1.25 ounces of hard liquor have approximately the same alcohol content.

Q: How long does it take to sober up?
A: On average, a person will metabolize alcohol at the rate of about one drink every hour after he or she has stopped consuming alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, the only way to get sober is to wait: eating, showering, or drinking coffee will not help you get sober any faster.

Here's the bottom line when it comes to driving under the influence in Missouri (courtesy of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety):

• Impaired drivers contribute to approximately 30% of all Missouri traffic deaths.

• 223 people died and another 745 were seriously injured in 2013 Missouri accidents involving an impaired driver.

• With a first drunk driving conviction, you can have your license suspended for 90 days, pay up to $500 in fines, and be sentenced to as much as six months in jail. If you're arrested again, you can lose your license for a year, pay up to $100 in fines, and spend as long as a year behind bars.

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Helping Hands, Helping Others: Donate canned food between now & Nov. 26!

November 7, 2014

983823_784326604957265_1179932079947107690_n.pngHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we're proud to be a sponsor of the KODE/KSNF Thanksgiving Pantry Food Drive: Helping Hands, Helping Others. Between now and November 26, you can drop off canned and non-perishable food items at the following locations:

• Aaron Sachs Joplin office: 3101 McClelland Blvd

• Aaron Sachs Springfield office: 3721 E. Battlefield, Suite 350

• KODE News Station in Joplin

• Wal-Mart at 15th and 7th Street in Joplin

• Food 4 Less on E. 32nd St. in Joplin

• Wal-Mart on Madison St. in Webb City

• Ron's Supermarket on Centennial Dr. in Pittsburg, KS

All donations will go to support Souls Harbor in Joplin and Wesley House in Pittsburg, KS. Read on to learn more about the good work these organizations are doing in our community!

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Personal injury claims in Missouri: Useful terms for accident victims to know

im-still-mobile-1114180-m.jpgMissourians who are injured as a result of another party's negligence are entitled to compensation for their losses, provided they can prove that negligence. However, the nature of the injury (and the circumstances that caused it) will impact what damages can be recovered, and in what amount, and from whom. In this post, we discuss important legal concepts that are often connected to Joplin personal injury lawsuits.

Comparative negligence law.
In Missouri, if your own carelessness contributed to your injury, your damages are reduced according to your percentage of fault. For example, if you're injured in a car accident that was 50% your fault, you can only collect half of the damages awarded to you.

Joint and several liability rules
If multiple parties caused your injury, each one is responsible for a portion of your losses. Here again, the size of each portion corresponds to each party's percentage of fault. However, according to Missouri's joint and several liability rules, if 1 party bears 51% or more of the fault, then that party can be made to pay all of your damages. Under these circumstances, the at-fault party also has the right to sue anyone else who shares in the fault for contribution.

Strict liability law
Typically, this provision applies to product liability cases, but here in Missouri, it also applies to injuries sustained from dog bites. In short, when strict liability (or "absolute" liability) is applied, it refers to "legal responsibility for damages, or injury, even if the person found strictly liable was not at fault or negligent."

In terms of product liability, strict liability requires that a product's manufacturer take responsibility for injuries and damages caused by a defective product, even though the manufacturer is not normally present or involved when those losses are sustained. Similarly, in Missouri, dog owners are automatically liable for damages caused by their pets (when dogs are on public property, or when injured victims are "lawfully on private property." In instances like these, strict liability law denotes "automatic responsibility (without having to prove negligence)."

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Five defensive driving tips to help you avoid Joplin car accidents

September 5, 2014

driver-901196-m.jpgCar accidents happen in a matter of seconds. Most of us don't get behind the wheel expecting to be involved in a collision, but millions of car crashes happen in the U.S. every year. In this post, our Joplin personal injury lawyers share five simple ways Missouri drivers can reduce their risk of having an accident.

1. Maintain your vehicle. In addition to prolonging the life of your vehicle, proper maintenance can also help reduce your chances of having an accident. Be sure to have your car serviced regularly: certain maintenance issues (i.e. improper tire pressure, problems with brakes, etc) can create ideal conditions for a crash.

2. Minimize potential distractions. Handheld electronic devices are a notorious source of distraction for today's drivers, but other activities can be equally deadly when you're behind the wheel. Refrain from eating and drinking; talking to passengers; playing with the radio; grooming; or any other activity that takes your attention away from the task of driving.

3. Slow down. When a vehicle's speed increases from 40 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour, the energy released by a collision more than doubles. In other words, the faster you're traveling, the greater the force of the impact will be, should a collision occur. Know the speed limit, and avoid driving too fast for conditions. For example, it's just good sense to slow down in heavy traffic, in inclement weather, and in construction zones.

4. Stay alert. We can't always count on other drivers to play by the rules. All too often, negligent careless drivers cause collisions that involve people who weren't doing anything wrong - except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your best bet is to expect the unexpected: drivers who stop suddenly, turn without signaling, follow too closely, and so on. Be aware of what's happening around you so you can react quickly, if needed. (And remember that impaired drivers can be incredibly dangerous. Don't drive if you're drowsy or under the influence.)

5. Buckle up. The simplest - and most effective - way to reduce your risk of injury is to wear your seat belt. Between 2004 and 2008, seat belts saved over 75,000 lives - and more than half of fatal crash victims weren't buckled up. If you're carrying young passengers, it's especially important to make sure they're properly restrained in appropriate child safety seats.

Continue reading "Five defensive driving tips to help you avoid Joplin car accidents" »

Join us for our bicycle safety helmet giveway in Joplin on June 19!

adventure-in-the-mountain-1-675925-m.jpgDo you need a safety helmet for the young bicyclist or skateboarder in your life? Here at Aaron Sachs and Associates, we'd like to invite you to join us for a helmet giveaway event next Thursday, June 19, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at our office (3101 McClelland Blvd., Joplin, Missouri 64804). Our team will be handing out 500 safety helmets free of charge! You'll also have an opportunity to meet members of the KODE news team, who will be broadcasting live from our office at 5:00 and 6:00 pm!

Our firm is extremely passionate about our safety helmet program: for almost 20 years, we've handed out more than 27,000 helmets to young people in our community. We know from experience that helmets save lives. We hope to see you on Thursday!

Aaron Sachs and Associates is a personal injury law firm serving accident victims in Joplin and throughout the four state area. To contact our office, call us toll-free at 1-888-777-AUTO, or visit our website, www.autoinjury.com.

Avoid roadway emergencies this summer: Road trip safety tips for Joplin, Missouri motorists

Packed for travel.jpgIt's June, temperatures are warming, and the kids are out of school: summertime has come to Joplin! In the months ahead, many Missourians will hit the road to enjoy summer road trips with friends and family. If you're planning to take a summer road trip this year, our Joplin car accident lawyers want to encourage you to take certain precautions to help ensure that you and your passengers arrive safely at your destination. As officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration point out, "Driver safety isn't only crucial on the highways. It starts before pulling out of the garage and doesn't simply end when the vehicle is in park."

Summer road trip safety: Tips & info for Jasper County motorists

1.) Make sure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Perform basic safety checks to confirm that your vehicle is fit for roadway travel, especially if you're traveling a long distance.

Tires. Tire maintenance is particularly important during the summer months, when hot weather, heavily-loaded vehicles and long trips can put an added strain on tires that are worn out or improperly inflated. A flat tire or blowout can certainly put a kink in your travel plans. Be sure to check the pressure in all your tires - including your spare. You'll also want to check for worn down tread and/or irregular tread wear patterns, which can indicate that your tires need to be rotated or replaced.

Belts and hoses. Check for signs of blisters, cracks or cuts, and replace any belts or hoses that show signs of excessive wear.

Wiper blades. Damaged or worn out wiper blades can present a serious problem if you happen to encounter severe weather conditions. Replace blades that show obvious signs of wear and tear.

Fluid levels. Check your oil, brake, transmission, steering, coolant and wiper fluids. Check for signs of leaks and confirm that each reservoir is full.

Lights. Your headlights, brake lights, turn signals and emergency flashers need to be in good working order.

Continue reading "Avoid roadway emergencies this summer: Road trip safety tips for Joplin, Missouri motorists" »

Keep your eyes on the road: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

no-cells-1131636-m.jpgUnfortunately, the problem of distracted driving continues to have a serious impact on roadway safety in Joplin, Missouri and nationwide. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Missouri lawmakers recently participated in a simulation exercise designed to illustrate the dangers of texting while behind the wheel. As state officials consider banning texting for all Missouri drivers, Dave Schatz, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee pointed out that texting isn't the only dangerous roadway distraction. "What we really need to focus on is distracted driving in general. There's other forms of distracted driving other than just texting. I'm trying to advocate how do we best move something forward that addresses that issue. Not just texting alone," Schatz said.

By now, most people have probably seen some of the numerous studies that illustrate the dangers of texting while driving: we know it causes car accidents and frequently results in injury and death. But other electronic devices affect the brain in the same way. For example, handheld GPS usage is a major contributor to distracted driving related collisions. It may seem ironic that a handheld GPS can be a driving hazard: after all, it was designed to help drivers arrive safely at their destinations. However, it can also be a distraction, if it takes a driver's eyes and mind away from the road. Likewise, ipods, mp-3 players, tablets, and other similar devices can drastically impair a driver's perspective.

And it doesn't stop there. Potential distractions are everywhere - and any task that diverts your attention from the primary task of driving can endanger you and everyone you're sharing the road with.

Staying focused on the road: A few reminders for Joplin drivers

• When you drive, let driving be your only task. Don't plan to focus on any other activities while you're behind the wheel, no matter how small.

• Drive defensively. Be on the lookout for distracted drivers: driver who don't appear to see you, who are veering in and out of lanes, who are failing to obey traffic signals, etc.

• Pull over to send a text, or have a passenger text for you.

• Pull over to use a handheld GPS or map or have a passenger check it for you.

• Pull over to make and take an important call, even on a hands-free device.

• Secure pets and children before getting on the road. If needed, pull off the road to provide attention and care.

• Don't put on makeup when you're driving.

• Don't eat or read when you're driving.

• Don't drive when you're tired or have been drinking.

Continue reading "Keep your eyes on the road: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month" »

Traumatic brain injuries & Joplin car accidents: Facts about diagnosis & treatment

file000894312228.jpgEvery year, over a million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries, also known as TBIs. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a TBI can cause numerous long-term consequences, including disability and death. And sadly, as our Joplin personal injury lawyers know, car accidents are the most common causes of TBI: according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, approximately half of all TBIs can be attributed to transportation accidents. Currently, there are an estimated 5.3 million Americans who are struggling with long-term disability due to TBIs. In this post, we share some basic information about these debilitating injuries.

What kinds of TBIs are there?

• Penetrating injuries: When an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain, damaging specific parts of the brain.

• Closed head injuries: When a blow to the head causes internal brain damage. These injuries can be complicated, since there's often no visible evidence of the degree of injury. "There are countless 'walking wounded' who look just fine on the outside, but who aren't the same on the inside," explains Jonathan Lifshitz, assistant professor at the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.

What are some common symptoms of TBI?

Mild TBIs can cause the following symptoms:

• Feeling dazed, dizzy or disoriented
• Trouble concentrating or remembering things
• Losing consciousness (for a period of a few seconds to a few minutes)
• Headaches
• Nausea/vomiting
• Feeling drowsy or tired; sleeping more than normal
• Insomnia
• Sensory problems (blurred vision, ringing in the ears, etc.)

Moderate to severe TBIs may be accompanied by these symptoms:

• Abnormal behavior (feeling confused, agitated, or combative)
• Losing consciousness (for a period of several minutes to several hours)
• Slurred speech, poor coordination, or loss of other motor functions
• Constant headaches, or a headache that gets progressively worse
• A weak or numb feeling in the fingers and toes
• Dilated pupils
• Seizures

Continue reading "Traumatic brain injuries & Joplin car accidents: Facts about diagnosis & treatment" »

Avoiding pedestrian accidents: Tips for Joplin motorists

94066_push_the_button.jpgAs our Joplin personal injury lawyers know, collisions involving motor vehicles and pedestrians can have devastating consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 more were injured in 2010 traffic accidents throughout the United States. In this post, we share some safety tips for Missouri pedestrians and drivers alike. To ensure we all arrive safely at our destinations, it's essential that we work together to share the road.

Traveling by foot: Safety tips for Missouri pedestrians

• When waiting to cross the street, be sure you keep a safe distance from the roadway.

• Always look both ways before you cross. This advice might seem like basic common sense, but it's a simple step that pedestrians often overlook - and it just might save your life.

• Only cross the street at intersections, and use marked crosswalks whenever possible. Doing so makes it much easier for drivers to see you.

• Never "jaywalk" or dart into traffic unexpectedly. Objects along the roadway - other vehicles, trees, hedges, etc. - can obscure a driver's vision.

• Don't assume that a driver sees you. Even if you have the right of way in a crosswalk, you should proceed across the street with caution, just in case.

• Make yourself visible. Wear brightly colored clothing and use reflectors or a flashlight if you must commute by foot after dark.

• Use sidewalks when possible - if there is no sidewalk, it's generally safer to walk facing traffic.

• It can be extremely dangerous to cross multi-lane roads, where traffic tends to be thicker and speed limits tend to be higher. Take extra precautions if you must cross the street in these conditions.

• Review pedestrian safety tips with children, especially if they regularly cross the street on their own. The website safekids.org offers several useful resources for parents of young pedestrians.

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Preventing motorcycle accidents in Joplin: Keep safety in mind this spring

February 27, 2014

335471_motorcycle_at_dusk.jpgIt's hard to believe, given the winter storm expected to pass through Missouri this weekend, but spring will be here in a matter of weeks. As temperatures begin to warm, Joplin drivers can expect to see area motorcyclists getting back on their bikes once again. Since there isn't much motorcycle traffic during the winter months, many drivers have forgotten all about sharing the road with motorcycles by the time spring rolls around. In this post, our Missouri personal injury lawyers review some important motorcycle safety tips that all motorists should keep in mind this riding season.

Sharing the road: What drivers can do to reduce motorcycle accidents

• Be aware of motorcyclists traveling near you and respect their right to the road. Remember, under the law, motorcycles are entitled to the same rights and privileges as other kind of motor vehicles.

• Allow extra space for motorcycles. Always increase your following distance when traveling behind a motorcyclist. Motorcycles handle differently than other kinds of passenger vehicles, so it's essential to give riders plenty of room in case they need to swerve or stop suddenly. Also, importantly, a larger vehicle should not attempt to share a lane with a motorcycle. Though there may appear to be plenty of room, a motorcycle needs a full lane to maneuver safely.

• Signal your intentions. Always use your turn signals when you're preparing to make a turn, change lanes, or merge into traffic. Doing so will help motorcyclists anticipate your next move and respond accordingly.

• Expect riders to make sudden adjustments for roadway conditions. Hazards like loose gravel, uneven pavement and wet roads can be especially dangerous for motorcycles. Riders often need to change their speed or adjust lane position when they encounter these conditions.

• Always look twice. Many motorcycle accidents happen because other drivers simply don't realize a motorcyclist is there. It's paramount that you check your mirrors and your blind spots, especially at intersections and when making left turns. It just might save someone's life.

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Watch for bicyclists on Joplin roads this spring

February 13, 2014

shadow-of-the-past-1432188-m.jpgThe weather hasn't exactly been ideal for riding a bike in recent weeks, but thankfully, spring is just around the corner - which means Joplin drivers can expect to see more bicycles on local roads. Our Missouri car accident lawyers want to remind area motorists about the importance of sharing the road so that everyone can arrive safely at their destinations. In this post, we share some important tips for cyclists and drivers alike.

Safe cycling: Ten safety tips for bicyclists (and their parents)

1. Always wear a properly fitting helmet to reduce your risk of injury.

2. Check your bicycle's tires and brakes before riding.

3. See and be seen: wear bright colors and use reflectors.

4. Don't get distracted: keep your eyes (and your mind) on what the vehicles around you are doing.

5. Ride with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic laws.

6. Look out for hazards like potholes, gravel and puddles.

7. Be predicable: use signals to let drivers know what you're doing.

8. Always look twice before making a turn or crossing the street.

9. Pay attention to parked cars.

10. Use extra care - and lights and reflectors - when bicycling after dark.

Continue reading "Watch for bicyclists on Joplin roads this spring" »

Rear-end collisions & whiplash injuries: Five common myths

January 29, 2014

923935_car_parking_dent.jpgAs Joplin car accident lawyers, we know that rear-end collisions are one of the most common kinds of crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a rear-end collision happens about every eight seconds in the U.S. Though these accidents don't always appear to be serious, the consequences can be catastrophic. In this post, we discuss a few common myths related to rear-end collisions and their resulting injuries.

Common myths about rear-end collisions and whiplash injuries:


MYTH #1: There was only minimal damage to the rear-ended vehicle, so its occupants couldn't have suffered any serious injuries.

When it comes to whiplash, the severity of vehicle damage has little to do with the severity of the occupants' injuries. Rear-end collisions that only leave minor scrapes and dents on your vehicle can cause serious damage to your neck and spine.

MYTH #2: If you don't experience pain or any other symptoms immediately after a crash, you probably haven't sustained any serious injuries.

On the contrary, the symptoms of whiplash and other soft tissue injuries often don't appear right after an injury occurs. It may take hours or even days before you begin to experience symptoms associated with whiplash - and at that point, those symptoms may come and go, or grow more severe as time passes. That's why it's so important to be evaluated by a doctor immediately following a rear-end collision, even if you think you're not hurt.

MYTH #3: Recovering from a whiplash injury generally only takes about six to 12 weeks. Permanent injuries associated with whiplash are extremely rare.

Car accident victims who suffer from mild forms of whiplash may be able to recover within a period of weeks, but severe whiplash injuries are another matter entirely. These injuries, which often involve damages to the nerves, ligaments or spinal discs, can cause chronic pain or permanent disability, and they may also require surgery.

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Outcome of "Google Glass" distracted driving case could impact future laws

January 16, 2014

driver-901196-m.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, our Joplin car accident lawyers know that distracted driving continues to be a major safety issue on our roadways, both here in Missouri and nationwide. Any time a driver divides his or her focus between driving and another task, the driver is much more likely to be involved in a serious crash. While many people still think of texting as the main problem, distracted driving continues to change and evolve right along with technology. In other words, many drivers are finding new, equally dangerous ways to be distracted.

This week, a California woman is scheduled to appear in court after she received a distracted driving citation for wearing Google Glass while behind the wheel. In the first case of its kind, software developer Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and ticketed for driving while wearing the device, which projects a small screen into the corner or the wearer's eye and isn't even available to the public yet. Abadie, one of thousands of people who are currently testing Google Glass, has pleaded not guilty. Her attorney says there's no proof the device was operational when Abadie was stopped. Meanwhile, at least three states (Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia) are considering new legislation that would prohibit drivers from using Google Glass on the road.

The dangers of distracted driving
It's no secret that distraction often plays a key role in serious collisions. Consider these facts:

• In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 more were injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver.

• According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at any given moment during daylight hours, there are 660,000 drivers who are using cell phones or other electronic devices while they're behind the wheel.

• A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) determined that "[e]ngaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times."

Distracted driving in Missouri
Currently, 41 states have banned text messaging for all drivers, and 12 prohibit all forms of cell phone use for all drivers. Unfortunately, Missouri's only distracted driving law prohibits texting for drivers under age 21. However, when a distracted driver causes an accident resulting in injury to another party, the driver may be subject to personal injury lawsuits filed on behalf of the accident victims.

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FRA reports increased number of pedestrian/train deaths in Missouri, nationwide

November 6, 2013

railway---hdr-890362-m.jpgAs Joplin auto accident lawyers, we're sad to note that the problem of pedestrian railroad deaths appears to be growing. In 2012, fatal train accidents involving pedestrians increased by 7.5% in the U.S., while the total number of train accidents dropped by 16.5%. Unfortunately, this year's data doesn't suggest any improvement - in fact, pedestrian/train accidents are becoming shockingly common, both here in Missouri and throughout the country.

Pedestrian/train accidents: What new federal data reveals

• Nationwide, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is reporting a 25% increase in the number of pedestrians who have suffered fatal injuries in accidents involving trains. Between January 1 and August 31, there were 352 pedestrian railroad deaths, which are classified by the FRA as "trespasser fatalities." The FRA reported 281pedestrian deaths during the same time period in 2012.

• If the fatality rate continues at this pace, pedestrian railroad deaths could reach 538 by the end of 2013. The rate hasn't been that high since 2002.

• Missouri has reported four pedestrian railroad deaths this year, while Illinois has reported 20. In fact, 43 out of 50 states have reported at least one pedestrian/train fatality, with New Jersey reporting largest increase (jumping from two during the first eight months of 2012 to 16 during the same time period this year).

Avoiding pedestrian accidents on railroad tracks: A few safety tips

Pedestrians must remember that all railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are considered private property. In addition to risking serious injury or death, you risk being charged with trespassing when you walk on train tracks.

There is only one safe place to cross train tracks: at a designated public crossing that is marked with a gate, flashing red lights or a crossbuck sign. Crossing the tracks in any other place is also considered trespassing.

When you're walking anywhere near railroad tracks, remove your ear buds and put away your phone or MP3 player. All too many pedestrian/train accidents occur when a pedestrian is distracted by an electronic device and fails to hear a train approaching.

Walking next to the tracks is also extremely risky. According to Operation Lifesaver, trains overhang the tracks by a minimum of three feet on both sides, and straps hanging from rail cars can stick out even further. Err on the side of caution, and keep your distance from the tracks.

Always look both ways before crossing the tracks - and never cross immediately after a train has passed. It may sound like silly advice, but a number of train accidents could be prevented if pedestrians kept this simple tip in mind. Trains don't always follow set schedules, and they don't always approach from the same direction. Also, a passing train can block your view of another train that's fast approaching.

Continue reading "FRA reports increased number of pedestrian/train deaths in Missouri, nationwide" »