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Railway Crossing Collisions

Here is yet another case of someone trying to beat a train at a road crossing. And who gets the blame for the train colliding with the vehicle and almost killing the 20 year old kid driving the car? The railway, of course.

Rail safety expert blasts London crossing where car and freight train collided

Operation Lifesaver has for many years been educating the public regarding trains. Almost every collision between trains, vehicles, and pedestrians is 100 per cent preventable. Still, there are people out there who will never learn the easy way, or at all. If a crossing has flashing warning lights, warning bells, and a gate, some people will disregard all of these warnings.

Approximately 50% of vehicle/train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (gates, lights, bells).

According to studies, vehicle drivers who do not exercise due caution at crossings are the main reason for highway/ railway crossing collisions.

The locomotive engineer is required, by law, to sound the train whistle when approaching most crossings.

Source: Operation Lifesaver

Some municipalities including London have even removed an important safety device.

Since 1963, local municipal by-laws have prohibited the use of train horns within city limits. Consequently, trains only sound the bell when approaching the crossing. [London, Ontario]

In addition to alerting pedestrians and motorists to the presence of a train, the train horn appears to encourage drivers to respect crossing protection. In a comparison of accidents occurring at crossings with and without whistle bans, it was found that accidents where motorists drove around lowered gates were 128% more common at crossings where a whistle ban was in place.

The report identified that pedestrians were subject to an increased risk of injury in areas where anti-whistling by-laws had been implemented.

Source: Railway Investigation Report R12T0217

Where train anti-whistling by-laws are in place, a train may only sound its whistle to prevent an accident. Hearing a train whistle blasting is not uncommon as it usually means someone disregarding the warning devices at a crossing.

Video footage of the crossing with train and car drivers

Personally, I am fed up with the blaming the railway for the stupid actions of others. The kid did not stop for the train. The problem is not that there is not a gate at the level crossing, the problem is he tried to beat the train in the first place. He did it on his own, and he almost paid for it with his life.

Canadian Pacific Railway upgrading London crossing where train and car collided in May

Some people will still gamble with their lives, and the lives of others, instead of waiting for a train to pass. No lights, bells, or gate is going to change that. Tragically, for these people, only a deadly collision with a 110 plus tonne locomotive will. 

"No cure for fools." - Yojimbo (1961) 

© Trevor Dailey


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