Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Accidents: A Starting Point

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Monday, February 16th, 2009

According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), there are approximately 227,000 highway-rail grade crossings in the US. A highway-rail grade crossing is where a railway and roadway intersect.

The FRA reports that 338 fatalities resulted from collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in 2007. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 41,059 fatalities resulted from motor vehicle crashes in 2007. When you compare these fatality statistics, it is easy to understand why many accident reconstructionists and attorneys are less familiar with accidents involving a motor vehicle and a train.

It is useful to have a starting point when dealing with collisions at highway-rail grade crossings. The following sections provide basic railroad terminology, explain some general job responsibilities of the crew, and offer useful suggestions and references for gathering accident data.

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