Given that it takes a train a long time to slow to a stop, it is critical for train operators to pay strict attention to railroad signals. These signals, which are placed at key locations alongside railroad tracks, give the engineer’s instructions based on the conditions that lay ahead. There could be any number of obstructions or hazards on or near the tracks, which the engineer may not even be able to see.

There are two types of signals that train operators must obey; absolute and permissive. Absolute signals are generally found at crossings, drawbridges and rail yards. These signals are typically marked with an “A.” Whenever an operator sees an absolute signal showing red, the train must be completely stopped and only restarted when the light changes to green.

On the other hand, a permissive signal is typically marked with a “P.” When a permissive signal is lit red, the operator must slow the train down. These signals are usually used to protect a specified section of the track.

Train operators have a duty to obey these signals. To do otherwise could result in a serious accident such as a derailment or a collision with a vehicle or a pedestrian at a crossing. Trains are constructed of steel and can travel at high speeds and could likely destroy anything in their path.

Victims of train accidents can suffer catastrophic injuries that may even prove fatal. Those who do survive will likely require long-term care and may never fully recover. When such an accident occurs, a thorough investigation is required to determine the cause so as to assign accountability. Should you or a loved one ever be harmed in a train accident, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help you seek appropriate compensation.