Seattle residents are concerned about the traffic dangers presented by the light rail system, which will run from downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac airport when it is completed in a few months. The concern increased after a Sound Transit train collided with a car on April 15, 2009 in a Rainier Valley neighborhood. According to a KOMO News report, the Seattle car crash occurred during rush hour at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and South Dawson Street, sending the car’s driver to the hospital with personal injuries.
Sound Transit is testing its routes, launching educational campaigns for drivers and preparing for its grand summer opening. However, neighbors view these train crossings as dangerous. Sound Transit still has not installed special barriers, no-turn signs or crossing arms at these crossings, which is understandably worrisome to many. In fact, there are no crossing arms at the 29 intersections where Sound Transit goes street level through Rainier Valley. Drivers only get bells, whistles and warning lights when a train is approaching. It is also a dangerous situation for pedestrians, especially young children who are crossing the street at street-level light rail crossings. There is nothing that stops people from walking across these crossings.
So far, Sound Transit has said that this Seattle train accident was the driver’s fault and that it has put out safety alerts saying that motorists should be alert and watch for trains during their “intensive testing period” before the launch in July. That said, can motorists and pedestrians alone be blamed for these Seattle light rail accidents? In my opinion, the transit authority has a duty to the citizens of Seattle to make these street-level crossings as safe as possible. And based on neighbors’ comments and these news reports, it seems to me that they are not particularly safe.
It is very important that the transit authority at least consider installing crossing arms at the 29 street-level intersections. This will go a long way in discouraging motorists from making illegal turns and taking chances at these locations. Pedestrian safety is also extremely important. Sound Transit should install proper signage so pedestrians are able to cross these streets safely. If anyone is injured because the transit authority did not take proper safety measures, Sound Transit could be held liable for the train and car accident and injuries. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Seattle train accident, please contact experienced Seattle Washington personal injury attorneys to find out how we can help protect your rights and secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.