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Streetcar Collision Raises More Questions About Their Safety

By: Allan M. Siegel

If you live in or around Washington, D.C., over the last few years you have probably heard at least a few things about the streetcar the District has been desperately trying to put on H Street N.E., and most likely the things you have heard are not good. After years of complications and millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars spent, the streetcar is close to a reality, now running safety trips along H Street, N.E. But on Saturday January 3, 2015, the streetcar project hit another bump in the road, or more accurately, a car. While running in "test mode" a streetcar collided with the passenger side of a car at the intersection of H Street, N.E., and 6 th Street, N.E. The driver of the car was cited for failing to pay full time and attention after apparently running a red light, but the incident draws more attention to the safety concerns about the streetcars.

DC Streetcar Accidents

If you have not seen one of the streetcars yet, they basically look like one of the transit buses that regularly cycle through DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Unfortunately, unlike a bus, a streetcar cannot make sudden adjustments to its course to avoid a collision. Safety concerns are playing a significant role in the continued delays in the streetcar as emails sent between the State Safety Oversight Office and District Department of Transportation suggest safety data or documents may have been fabricated or misrepresented, and adequate safety certifications had not been submitted.

The Federal Transit Authority has raised other safety concerns as well, including a crosswalk with no signal that cuts across the tracks on Benning Road, potentially resulting in streetcar-pedestrian collisions; the poorly designed and laid out concrete paths near that are not sidewalks, despite appearing to be; an intersection where even when all 4-ways of car traffic have a red light, the streetcar would have its own green light, increasing the possibility of pedestrians attempting to cross and being struck; and running very close to parked cars on one stretch of the track. There is also the issue of streetcars having to stop in the middle an intersection on a green light for as long as 40 seconds to change lanes, increasing the likelihood that other drivers, buses, and pedestrians will try to go around or in front of the streetcars, creating a potential hazard.

The reintroduction of streetcars to DC are going to present new challenges for drivers and as seen recently, new dangers. The automobile accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Seigel, P.C., have years of representing countless individuals who have been injured in automobile collisions. Our experience and dedication ensures that our clients get the best result possible, regardless of what type of vehicle the wrongdoer is operating. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of someone else's negligence, give us a call today for a free consultation.