Railroad crossing accidents are one of the most dangerous types of accidents involving motor vehicles. Studies show that over 85% of railroad accidents occur at railroad crossings. In addition, most of these accidents are avoidable if certain measures are taken.
Warning Systems Not Working
The majority of railroad crossing accidents are due to the warning bell or crossing gates not working. In addition, some drivers claim they couldn’t see the train coming because of shrubbery, trees, or bushes surrounding the railroad crossing. It is the responsibility of the railroad company to make sure that the area around the crossing is clear and free so that the railroad conductor and driver can see each other. Also, it is their responsibility, as well as the city officials, to make sure that the warning bells and crossing bars are working properly.
Drivers have some responsibility as well. It is never smart to try to “out run” an oncoming train. A good number of fatal accidents have been caused by drivers that try to beat a train by driving around the crossing bars or in front of a stopped train at a train depot. On some locomotives, the conductor is sitting up high and cannot see what is right in front of the train.
Railroad Conductors/Workers Negligent Behavior
There have been several cases across the U.S. where train conductors have been involved in accidents due to speeding. Federal regulations are in place that a train can go at only a certain speed, especially when driving through residential areas.
Long Hours/Drug Abuse/Under the Influence
As with other vehicle drivers, railroad conductors need to be screened for drugs and alcohol. This is not always the case. Furthermore, studies show that most railroad conductors work long hours with no breaks which can cause them to fall asleep behind the wheel of the train. If you factor in a conductor that is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it makes for a deadly combination. This is especially true for conductors that are stressed out to make a destination at a certain time and is running late, causing them to drive the train at a higher speed.