Warning lights, gates, signs and similar safety devices are installed at rail crossings to prevent collisions with motor vehicles. Train operators and conductors are required to maintain control of the train and keep a proper lookout at all times, keep all passengers secured in their compartments, and follow other state and local rules.
Rail companies, as common carriers, have a legal obligation to treat passengers with the utmost care possible while they are transporting them. As trains approach crossings, all personnel must ensure the train is under control, a proper lookout is maintained, and other state and federal laws are followed. They also must adapt to the conditions: If there is strong rain, wind, snow or other inclement weather, railroad staff must alter their practices to maintain safe speeds and cautiously proceed through crossings.
Government authorities at the local, state, and federal levels are generally responsible for installing safety features including warning lights, gates, and signs at railway crossings. They are also supposed to regularly inspect them to ensure they remain in working order. Meanwhile, the railroad companies are responsible for ensuring proper sight lines around crossing areas, which means being proactive about clearing vegetation and other obstructions.
The federal government plays a large role in trying to keep the public safe near train crossings. The Federal Highway Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is charged with this task and has issued rules to address train and railway crossing dangers.
Staying Safe Near Trains and Railway Crossings
Here are some points to remember when you come upon train tracks and rail crossings:
- Trains are much larger than cars and can cause extraordinary damage upon impact with a person or car, even at relatively low speeds.
- Trains are much quieter than they used to be and do not always give a loud warning upon their approach.
- Train schedules are erratic, so it is safest to assume that a train could come through any time when you are in the vicinity of train tracks.
- Even if train conductors can see you, it takes trains travelling at high speeds nearly a mile to come to a complete stop.
- Railroads can run trains in either direction on the track at any time.
- Trains are entitled to the right of way over every other vehicle, no matter what kind.
- You should cross train tracks only in the locations where it is allowed and when the signs and signals permit you to cross.
- Because train compartments fall well outside the actual track width due to their girth, you should stay far from train tracks when a train is approaching.
- Avoid texting, phone calls, and other distractions when you’re around trains or train tracks.
- Train tracks, train stations, and railways are private property, and you can be fined or prosecuted for trespassing if you go where you’re not supposed to.
Our Firm can Help You Understand Your Rights After a Train Accident
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents people injured in train accidents and helps individuals in Illinois and throughout the Midwest understand their rights regarding train safety. If you have been hurt in an accident involving a train, we can help you bring a legal claim for recovery. We represent all our clients on a contingency-fee basis so you can concentrate on getting well instead of worrying about legal bills at a financially vulnerable time. Give us a call and speak with one of our skilled train accident injury lawyers today.