A train accident in Girard, Kansas at an unguarded railroad crossing resulted in tragedy on Sunday. The driver, a 22 year old woman, lost her life in the accident, and her 7 month old baby and the father both were seriously injured in the accident. The accident is under investigation. No gate to protect motorists from trains exists at the crossing.
In spite of the frequently-cited statistic that most crossing accidents happen at crossings where lights and gates are present, lights and gates have proven efficiency. The reason that many accidents occur at protected crossings is that the crossings which receive the heaviest volumes of traffic are generally outfitted with protective equipment.
Railroad crossings in less populated areas which receive lower volumes of traffic should still be equipped with lights and gates. 95% of accidents could be prevented with lights and gates, properly installed and maintained – so why shouldn’t legislation be in place which establishes the requirement for grade crossings to have proper equipment?
Tragic, senseless loss of life should not be required to get the railroads’ attention. A young family was torn apart on Sunday. There are no legitimate reasons to assume that railroad crossing deaths such as this will end without deliberate, significant changes. It’s high time that railroads own up to their responsibilities at railroad crossings.