(Hammond, Indiana – January 14, 2021)
A local Hammond resident driving a Chevrolet Trax was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The collision occurred at about 4:45 pm last Thursday at the railroad crossing near 169th Street and Alabama Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. The crossing is equipped with lights and gates. However, according to several witnesses, the lights and gates were not working at the time of this collision.
The railroad industry terms malfunctioning lights and gates an activation failure. Activation failures of light and gate signal systems are some of the most dangerous types of crossing malfunctions because the railroad industry knows, and encourages drivers to rely on lights and gates to provide warning of oncoming trains. If lights and gates are malfunctioning, railroad rules require trains to stop short of the crossing and yield the right of way to motorists until they have cleared the crossing or there is a flagger/police officer stopping traffic. It appears Norfolk Southern did not do either in this case. At this time, Norfolk Southern has not provided any explanation why the lights and gates were not working.