The Phoenix Light Rail has been in operation since December 2009. Since that time, we have seen dozens of accidents with motor vehicles. According to the Arizona Republic, the new light rail trails have averaged one crash with a car every 6 days. We must naturally ask the question: Is it safe?
The tracks of the light rail cross 148 intersections in the Valley. This is not insignificant, given that its coverage area is quite limited at this point. According to Valley Metro, they have spent $685,000 to date to educate drivers on safety precautions regarding the Light Rail.
When it comes to the 13 crashes that took place during the first 3 months of operation, Valley Metro says most if not all of the crashes were because drivers ignored or didn’t pay attention to the traffic. I am sure that the drivers would tell some different stories. Are the warning adequate? Is it safe? Everywhere and all the time?
- Could it be safer?
- What if anything could/should the Light Rails operators do differently?
- What could/should automobile drivers do differently?
- Will it get worse as the tracks and trains expand throughout the Valley?
While there is little doubt things could be made safer, the law does not require a perfect system. The law requires a system that is reasonably safe. What does that mean? That means that the conditions must be safe that a normal, reasonably prudent driver can and will avoid an accident with the Light Rail. 100% safety is not possible. You cannot engineer stupid. Some people are going to do dumb things that are going to result in accidents. No way around that and no system can guaranty against that.
The big key here for everyone is to exercise caution. Undoubtedly, Valley Metro and the governmental entities have spent a great deal of time in planning the Light Rail. Have they thought of everything? Probably not. Have they covered most bases? Presumably so. Have they built and maintained a perfect system? No, but again, the law does not require perfection. The law requires reason. Drivers need to exercise caution too. This is new to our city. We need to be more aware. We need to remain observant. We need to drive defensively, with reasonable precautions. We may not be able to prevent every accident, but we can certainly diminish the numbers substantially with reasonable care by all.
If you have been involved in an accident involving the Light Rail, and you believe that you are not the at fault party, please keep in mind that you have a greatly shortened time frame to assert your claims to recover for any damages. Arizona law allows you only 180 days to serve official notice, in a specified format, to the governmental entity at issue. A failure to follow the strict rules will bar your right to make a claim for your damages.
If you have been in an accident involving the Light Rail, you should consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. The accident needs to be properly investigated and the evidence preserved. No doubt the Light Rail operators will have supervisors and/or risk management people at the scene. Don’t wait to get your own professionals involved. You need advise and protection for the rights that Arizona law provides you.