Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill that is intended to increase pedestrian and motor vehicle safety around railroad crossings on Monday, April 16, 2012. The Deseret News reported that a bill, SB-195 was constructed in order to help increase safety measures around Utah railways. The bill was established in lieu of multiple accidents and deaths caused on the railways. Several restrictions mentioned in the bill include limiting when a vehicle may turn around near railroad tracks or railroad grade crossings, prohibiting vehicles from driving through, around or under a crossing gate or barrier and limits on what pedestrians can do around railroad crossings or bridges.
Because of the several accidents involving TRAX, and UTA buses, the new law will specifically state when it is alright to proceed and when to stand clear of the vehicles. This new law will also state in simple terms what can and cannot be done around and along railways and railroad crossings. It will also strengthen the ability of law enforcement to issue citations for infractions when tampering or vandalism is done to transit equipment. Under the new law, it may become a felony when such obstructions are done. The law is expected to be put into place on May 8, 2012.
We have seen far too many accidents involving trains and pedestrians, and trains and other vehicles. While UTA usually attempts to blame the victim in these accidents, it’s also clear that UTA is free of fault from many of them that happen. Along with this law, though, I would like to see enhanced penalties for UTA TRAX operators who, through their negligence, contribute to another person being injured. Because of inherent conflicts of interest involved when the UTA investigates an accident involving one of its trains or buses, I think an independent review board needs to make a decision on whether these accidents are preventable or not. Only when there is independent oversight can we be assured (or at least more so) that unsafe operators employed by UTA are being weeded out in favor of those whose primary goal is the safety of the passengers they transport.
The above opinions belong to those of Ron Kramer, a West Jordan and Salt Lake City personal injury and disability attorney.