When you first attend driving classes, you spend what seems like an unreasonable amount of time learning how to cross railroad crossings safely and efficiently. This seems like a basic task, but there’s a good reason that driving instructors spend so much time on it—it’s one of the most dangerous things a driver can do.
Although standards for railroad crossings were created with safety in mind, you get a slightly different experience at each one. At one, you may get a verbal notification that the gates are closing, the gates dropping in a timely manner, and bright flashing lights. At another, the gates may come partially down and stop, still leaving room for cars and pedestrians to sneak through. It is crucial to be extra cautious while driving through and around railroad crossings.
If you’ve been injured in a train accident, it’s possible that a malfunctioning railroad crossing is the cause. You may be entitled to compensation. Learn more about your legal options now by calling Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151.
Quiet Alarm Sounds and Notifications
Quiet notifications and alarms are extremely dangerous for drivers. This is often the fault of city planners. In response to complaints that train alarms and whistles are too loud for surrounding residents and businesses, they drop the volume to make the area more pleasant. However, this has the side effect of making the railroad crossing less safe. To be truly effective, alarms and verbal notifications must be loud enough to override the sounds of the surrounding area.
Lagging or Dysfunctional Gates
Gates that do not close on time or do not close fully are a significant issue for drivers and pedestrians. While drivers know that they should not attempt to cross the train tracks after the lights have started flashing, too many consider it worth the risk to sneak under a slow-closing railroad gate. This puts them at risk of being either hit by a train or having the gate close on their car, leaving them stuck on the tracks.
Malfunctioning Electronic Warning Signs
Many railroad crossings now have additional signs and warnings to provide additional protection and help those with disabilities. For example, verbal alarms that state that the gates are closing are helpful for blind pedestrians. Large signs announcing when the gates are closing provide another reminder for distracted drivers. The more warnings you have, the more drivers come to rely on them. When the warnings malfunction one day, it is easy for drivers to miss the other notifications and possibly put themselves in danger.
Overgrown Trees and Bushes
The area around railroad crossings should be kept visually tidy and free of clutter. When left untended, it’s common for crossings to become plagued by overgrown bushes and trees that make it difficult to see when a train is approaching. This is a particularly common issue in smaller rural areas, where railway maintenance may not be a top priority. Ideally, these areas should be maintained often enough that drivers always have a clear view of oncoming trains.
Trains Parked on Railways
At the end of a run, trains should always be parked in a designated depot or terminal. Trains that regularly park on the railway create unnecessary dangers for drivers. Drivers get used to the sight of a non-moving train on the railway, which makes them think it’s safe to cross. When they finally encounter a moving train on the railway, it may take them time to realize that it’s not parked. Everything a train does should be designed to make drivers cautious around them and leaving trains on the railway is simply not a good idea.
Discuss Your Train Accident Claim with Reeves & Mestayer
Unfortunately, train accidents remain relatively common in the United States. As states and cities move to make railroad crossings safer and drive down crash rates, it is important to know what your rights are if you are involved in a collision. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. To discuss your claim in greater detail and make a plan, call Reeves & Mestayer at 228-374-5151 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to assisting you.