Railroad News

Stop sign at deadly crossing: too little, too late

What’s wrong with this picture: a respected citizen and grandmother in Terra Haute, IN, loses her life at an unprotected railroad crossing, while her two passengers – her granddaughters – are both admitted to ICU. In response, a stop sign is installed at the crossing.

Not to be too cynical, but nearly everything described is wrong with this picture. Deadly crossings result in the tragic and senseless loss of life when left unprotected. In spite of terms such as “passive warning device”, crossings protected by nothing other than “passive” signs like stop signs or crossbucks are simply unguarded and unprotected. The only adequate forms of protection at crossings such as this are properly maintained lights and gates.

Something is better than nothing, and so the stop sign is a welcomed nod in the direction of safety. But a passive sign is really little more than a trite nod when adequate, fully functioning, protective and “active” safety devices are desperately needed.