An upstate NY 68-year-old man was killed at an unprotected crossing in Northumberland on Wednesday morning. According to the sheriff’s department, the truck was crossing the tracks and got stuck. An oncoming freight train then hit the truck, killing the operator and injuring the 53-year-old driver.
This dangerous crossing has no protective lights or gates.
Any railroad crossing which commercial truck drivers must drive over must be outfitted with lights and gates as an absolute necessity. Unprotected railroad crossings are dangerous for any driver, but the hazards are especially significant for drivers of commercial trucks. Their size and weight greatly increases their chances of becoming stuck, among other issues.
This tragedy is no exception. There is nothing to indicate any improper action on the part of the truck driver or operator. Instead, the issue here is the one that is conveniently ignored by railroads and their public relations outfit, Operation Lifesaver: a dangerous and unprotected railroad crossing. The fact that the truck became stuck in the first place suggests that the crossing itself has not been maintained well enough to be suitably fit for commercial trucks. Yet if this crossing had proper equipment, the two men would not have been on the tracks as a train approached anyway.
This accident is an unnecessary tragedy. Lights and gates save lives. It is outlandish that two-thirds of all U.S. railroad crossings do not have them.