Major railroad accident crashes at highway-rail grade crossings generally involve significant injuries, loss of lives and rail service disruptions. With more than 750 railroads operating on 140,000 miles of track in the United States, there are in excess of 212,000 highway rail grade crossings. The Federal Railroad Administration recorded 2,068 incidents between a train and car in 2014 and while this number is considerably lower than its peak in the late 1970’s, there still exist significant dangers. The causes for these accidents range from driver or train operator error to vehicle, train or safety gate maintenance issues. The need for safety improvements to minimize such accidents has been recognized for some time. This has given rise to a significant body of literature on safety and cost issues associated with engineering improvements.
Accident reconstructions of such events must consider many issues such as train speed, stopping distance, train engineer line of sight and attentiveness, crossing gate safety, warning signals, crossing roadway defects, train driver distractions and vehicle maintenance. We at Technology Associates have successfully analyzed such events and performed engineering analyses for clients based upon our many years of accident reconstruction, mechanical engineering and human factors experience.