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New Light Rail Could Mean More Accidents for Norfolk Drivers

The new light rail system in Norfolk will launch on August 19, 2011, and begin full operations the following Monday. Downtown drivers who already share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists will now have to contend with Tide trains, and experts believe this will inevitably lead to accidents. Nationally, an average of 14 people lose their lives each year in accidents involving light-rail trains and tracks, the Virginian-Pilot reported. Another 300 people suffer injuries. Shockingly, more than 90 percent of these accidents were caused by "public behavior."

So far, there haven't been any major accidents with Tide trains as operators have conducted test runs. And Hampton Roads Trains officials are making every effort to train their operators to handle worst-case scenarios. They're also taking notes on where pedestrians most commonly cross tracks and where cars are most likely to run red lights, putting drivers and passengers in the paths of approaching light-rail trains. It's not just traffic emergencies they're training for; operators are being drilled on derailments, bombs, hostage situations and fires.

Most commonly, accidents involving light-rail trains occur when drivers turn left onto train tracks. With about a dozen left turns on Norfolk's tracks, HRT is doing everything to prevent accidents. Signs will light up to indicate that left turns are prohibited when a train is approaching.

There's no question that sharing the road with the new light rail will take some getting used to, but by following safety precautions, we can prevent major accidents from occurring. Check out the list of safety tips HRT has listed on its website: Ride the Tide Safety Tips

Earlier this year, I was interviewed by WVEC news about HRT's need for an automatic braking system. As a Virginia personal injury attorney, I have experience handling cases involving mass transit injuries. My colleagues, too, are experts on handling your mass transit injury cases. Take a look at the blog my colleague John C. authored last year detailing more safety tips.

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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