The intersection of railroad
tracks with streets and highways at grade crossings
provides the opportunity for serious conflicts. These
conflicts have a great potential for serious accidents,
particularly where heavy
trucks carrying hazardous materials or trains carrying
such commodities are involved. Trains carrying hazardous
materials present no special threat unless a derailment
has occurred. But the loss of life, serious injuries
and death, and a tremendous amount of property damage
could result. A railroad grade crossing accident can
be a far more serious and complicated collision than
the typical automobile crash.
There are many types of railroad grade crossing accidents.
Some affect more than the vehicle driver and train crew.
In most cases, when a grade crossing collision occurs,
there has been a violation of at least one traffic law.
The most common cause of highway - rail collisions is
intentional violations of law, because of impatience
or inattention. In over 25% of collisions, the vehicle
driver runs into the train. Over half of all railroad
grade crossing accidents occur at crossings where there
are active warning devices.