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Will new brake system prevent railroad worker injuries?

Many Connecticut railroad workers and their families were saddened to learn about a recent derailment that took place in another state. There were several fatalities involved and news of the tragedy reaffirmed opinions that system and equipment upgrades and reforms are needed to prevent further railroad worker injuries and hazards to passengers. In fact, some say the automatic braking system that was installed in the locomotive that careened off its tracks may have helped avert the collision if only it had been activated.

At least 47 railroads recently received an alert from the Secretary of Transportation. The railroads were warned that they need to act swiftly to install new automatic braking systems. The train that wrecked in the northwest region of the country was traveling approximately 80 mph around a 30 mph curve when it flew off its tracks.

The upgraded braking technology on board may have prevented the crash. The problem is the system was installed but not activated. This type of braking technology has been recommended to the nation's railroads since the 1970s.

Data suggests there have been nearly 150 derailments since then that might have been avoided if the trains that crashed had been equipped with available automated brake systems. Railroad worker injuries are often catastrophic. In the most recent derailment in the state of Washington, three passengers died. Whether the incident will prompt mass compliance with recommendations to install automatic braking systems in more of the nation's trains remains to be seen. In the meantime, any Connecticut worker who suffers injury in a railroad accident that he or she believes was due to railroad negligence may reach out for support from an attorney well-versed in the compensation process under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

Source: USA Today, "DOT urges railroads to install automatic braking by Dec. 31", Bart Jansen, Jan. 3, 2018

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