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Fatal Train Accident in San Jose Raises Pedestrian Safety Questions

News sources reported a fatal train accident in San Jose, California Tuesday afternoon after a VTA light rail train struck and killed a pedestrian. Authorities said the accident occurred shortly after 4:00 p.m. near Fruitdale Station. According to reports, a pedestrian was trapped beneath the train and died after being rescued by emergency responders.

A VTA spokesperson stated that the “pedestrian was trespassing, not in [a] crosswalk when hit.”

Others believe the accident calls for stricter safety measures at the intersection. One woman told an ABC7 reporter that VTA should enforce horns at the crossing, which train operators currently do not sound as they approach.

On her Twitter account the reporter also stated, “People say there have been fatal pedestrian accidents on these tracks at least two other times.”

A sign near the tracks tells pedestrians to look both ways because there is no train horn.

Federal Railroad Administration Rules and “No Train Horn” Quiet Zones

Federal regulations require train operators to sound a horn between 15 and 20 seconds before approaching public crossings. Unless the train is traveling more than 60 miles per hour, the operator cannot sound the horn more than ¼ mile before the intersection.

There are exceptions to this rule though. These areas are “quiet zones,” and include the crossing near Fruitdale Station in San Jose.

By law, an intersection is a quiet zone when locomotive operators only sound horns during emergencies. In order to establish a quiet zone, communities must request approval through local authorities.

Quiet Zones and Train Accident Liability

According to the FRA, the courts are responsible to determine who is liable for collisions at quiet zone railway crossings. Liability is “based upon the facts of each case, as a collision may have been caused by factors other than the absence of an audible warning,” the FRA states.

Many circumstances contribute to train-pedestrian accidents, but the risks associated with quiet zones can increase the likelihood of as catastrophic accidents.

For more information about train accidents and your legal rights, speak with a San Jose personal injury lawyer from Habbas & Associates.

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