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Car train collision at unguarded Iowa railroad crossing

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

A person, yet to be identified, was killed Tuesday morning in a car-train accident at an unguarded railroad crossing. The driver apparently began traversing across the railroad crossing when an incoming train hit the car, flipping it over into a ditch, where it burst into flames.

The crossing is marked only by a crossbuck sign.

There are not enough details yet released to know where the fault lies for this accident, though the evidence thus far is consistent with an all-too-frequent occurrence: the driver approached an unguarded railroad crossing and at first glance noticed no train, so assumed the path was clear to go. Moments later, they notice a train coming towards them deceptively fast, and reason that it’s too late to stop. They are then hit by the train at the crossing and lose their life.

If this is indeed the case, it highlights some serious problems with railroad crossings “protected” by nothing other than a crossbuck sign: most motorists do not respond to a crossbuck the same way they do to active warning. A crossbuck, to the average motorist, means “railroad crossing”, while active warning means “train”. Motorists are much more aware that they can be killed by trains than that they can be killed by railroad crossings.

Railroads can shift blame all they want, but they can’t deny statistics. Crossbucks do not mean “stop, it’s a train” in the minds of the many. Railroads can say that this is exactly what they mean – but if they do not have that affect, then why persist in their use?


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