What Responsibilities do Motorists and Pedestrians Have at Railroad Crossings?
They must stay a safe distance from moving trains and railroad tracks, keep a clear lookout of the entire area, obey warning signals, proceed across the tracks with caution, and not engage in reckless or unreasonable conduct.
With metropolitan Chicago’s Metra commuter rail system and a hub for regional and national freight traffic, Illinois is among the states with the most miles of railroad tracks. Unfortunately, that distinction is accompanied by a high incidence of rail crossing accidents that have claimed lives and injured many.
In an effort to reduce the casualty rate, the Illinois legislature has enacted laws to protect the public. In addition to placing serious duties and responsibilities on railroad companies and train operators to avoid accidents, the law also requires the public to play its part in staying safe.
When the following conditions are present, Illinois law requires drivers and pedestrians to remain at least 15 feet from the railroad crossing and wait until the crossing signal allows them to proceed or the train has passed:
- A clearly visible electric or mechanical signal device gives warning of the immediate approach of a railroad train or railroad track equipment
- A crossing gate is lowered or a human flagman gives or continues to give a signal of the approach or passage of a railroad train or railroad track equipment
- A railroad train or railroad track equipment approaching a highway crossing emits a warning whistle or horn and, by reason of its speed or nearness to such crossing, is an immediate hazard
- An approaching railroad train or railroad track equipment is plainly visible and is in hazardous proximity to such crossing
- A railroad train or railroad track equipment is approaching so closely that an immediate hazard is created
(625 ILCS 5/11-1201)
Under these conditions, pedestrians and drivers are not allowed to go around the gate or otherwise enter the railroad crossing to go over the tracks.
What are the Penalties for Disregarding Rail Crossing Safety Rules?
Penalties for violating these laws normally include monetary fines, community service, as well as suspension of your driver’s license and jail time if you are a repeat offender.
Responding to multiple rail crossing tragedies, the Illinois legislature has increased fines for violators who disregard railroad safety laws to $500 for a first violation and $1,000—plus a possible six-month suspension of driving privileges—for subsequent offenses.
Note that local towns and municipalities also have rules, fines, and other penalties for persons who disregard rail crossing warnings.
Was Another Party Responsible for Your Train Accident Injuries?
Even if it was not the train operator or rail company that was responsible for your injuries but another motorist or other third party, the experienced train accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can still help you get the compensation you deserve under Illinois law. We can take your case on contingency so you only have to pay for our legal services if we win compensation on your behalf. Call our offices today to learn more about how Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can protect your rights after a train accident.