| Added On January 27, 2010
By now, everyone knows not to walk on the railroad track. This is for several reasons – chief of which being that even abandoned looking tracks can have a speedy train that will come down the line occasionally. And the person on the track will often not have the time to get out of the way, courting disaster and an accident.
Another issue that you should all consider, is that although you are familiar with any railroad tracks in or near your town, remember that there may be tracks at the place where you vacation, or are sent to a related job-site, or come across in another town where you find yourself visiting. These tracks will not be so familiar to you, and you should err on the side of caution whenever crossing railroad tracks in a vehicle.
Workers who repair roads know that it takes special maintenance to repair a railroad track. The asphalt has to be poured up to the tracks, the area needs to be leveled off correctly to allow rain to run off, and the gravel needs to be replaced in central areas of the track. When a car goes over railroad tracks, it is usually going over an area that has been smoothed out for allowing cars to travel over the track area. For motorcyclists, it is important that they should always use caution, since their wheels have a likelihood of getting caught in the grooves at any speed, as they traverse the tracks.
There are three general types of railroad crossings. Railroad crossings with lights and gates, crossings with only lights, and those with no lights or gates – just a sign (called a crossbuck) that there is a railroad crossing. Each of these types of crossings usually also have a signal or warning bell that will clang, and alert drivers and pedestrians that a train may be coming. If there is more than one track involved in the crossing, the crossbuck will have a notation on a sign telling passersby that there is more than one track. The alternating flashing red lights are a safety feature to alert drivers that a train is coming.
One problem that occurs at railroad crossings is that motorists often try to get around the gates. They look up and down the track when the gates come down, and feel that they don’t “see” the train coming. This is a dangerous maneuver that should be avoided at all times. But there are people who consider going around the gates. Many lives have been lost by people who attempted to subvert the gates and beat the train. There is even a new technology called “StopGates” (reinforced gates with longer blocking arms) or delineators (cylinders which pop up from the ground to block cars) which is meant to make it impossible for auto drivers to drive around a gate at a railroad crossing.
School buses, some truckers carrying special freight or liquids (such as fuel) and other large commercial livery vehicles have strict rules regarding stopping at railroad tracks before they cross. They are stopping and opening their door or windows, to determine that the coast is clear and that they can pass safely. If they determine a train is coming, they will wait safely on one side until the train has passed. Most of the level crossings (railroad crossings) in the U.S. are equipped with a special lane for these vehicles to pull into to check the crossing safely. If there is no special lane, drivers should be aware that there may be certain vehicles that are required by law to stop and listen before going over the tracks.
If you have been in an accident at or near a railroad crossing, and you want to speak to an expert at these types of accidents, you will want to call us at Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or email us at www.ledgerlaw.com. We are standing by to take your call, so call today.