Citizens of Dale, Wisconsin may be seeing new active warning devices at four railroad crossings. The area is under investigation to see if it merits the funding. Funding would come from a mix of state and federal money. One interesting thing to note is that these crossings haven’t been the objects of complaint – neither accidents nor other serious problems have been happening at these crossings. Rather, it meets a mathematical criterion which determines that the speed of the trains passing through the area is high enough (roughly 60 mph) to make the costs of accidents, if there were any, to be too high.
Any potentially deadly crossing should be equipped with active warning devices, so this effort is indeed to be applauded. The costs of active warning devices run abut 100,000, plus annual maintenance – far less than the cost of a human life. Still, it is sad that the current criteria for installing these life-saving devices is so cold and detached. What about the crossings where accidents have indeed happened, and still have no active warnings? Why won’t the railroads themselves spend the dollars to implement these devices? The answer is simple: economics.