Federal Railroad Administration Statistics Give Scope of Car and Truck Accidents at Local Rail Crossings & Tracks

Rail Crossing with train approaching.

A report released by the Federal Railroad Administration described accidents occurring at the railroad crossings and incidents occurring along the tracks in Ulster County. The report describes all accidents occurring at the 47 rail crossings for the CSX line cutting through Ulster County since 1995. In total, 21 accidents have occurred at the railroad crossings, leading to three deaths and five injured persons. Additionally, between 2011 and the end of 2014, seven people trespassing on tracks were injured, with three of those persons being killed, and a recent incident involving a young woman walking along but not on the tracks was not included among those numbers.

Local cities are taking safety measures to ensure that these numbers decrease. For example, one particularly problematic crossing at Tissal Road on Kings Highway in Saugerties was the location for six of the 21 accidents at local crossings, with one of those accidents resulting in a fatality, and two that caused injuries. When those accidents occurred, trucks were forced to block the tracks while trying to turn onto the highway. However, a crossing with gates and lights was installed further north in 2009, and no accidents have occurred since that installation. Additionally, the penalty for trespassing on train tracks has become more severe. While it used to be only an infraction to trespass on tracks, authorities now consider it a misdemeanor-level offense to trespass on train tracks, for which police officers are authorized to arrest offenders.

Researchers are also examining ways to make train crossings safer using new technologies. Since 94% of railroad crossing accidents are attributable to driver behavior, one new technology in development would provide a way for drivers to alert other drivers that they are violating an active railroad crossing system. A new relay beacon system is in development with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute which would allow passenger vehicles and trains to communicate when at a crossing.

One representative of train safety nonprofit Operation Lifesaver of New York states that individuals concerned about railroad crossing safety should approach their local municipality and advocate for the installation of upgraded light and gate crossing systems. The State of New York Department of Transportation will consider the history of accidents at the given crossing and install new crossing systems according to such priorities.

Train crossings are plentiful in our area and can be highly dangerous. If you or a loved one have been injured at a train crossing in Dutchess, Ulster, or Orange County, seek seasoned legal assistance to ensure that you’re fully compensated for your injuries. Contact the Kingston personal injury lawyers at Basch & Keegan for a free consultation on your case by calling (845) 338-8884.