Useful Suggestions for Gathering Accident Data

by: Prince, Glover & Hayes Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Each highway-rail grade crossing has a unique crossing number. The FRA documents the history of each highway-rail grade crossing, including accident history, traffic, and warning systems. Learn more about how to obtain data for a specific highway-rail grade crossing. The FRA also supplies a guide containing the requirements that railroad employees must adhere to when preparing an accident or incident report.

Individual railroad companies should have information on the train, the train’s crew, and the track, including speed limits and grades. The company may also have information on the working-status of any warning systems in place at the highway-rail grade crossing. Train crews may have provided written statements to their company. These statements could include how the accident occurred, the operating condition of any warning systems, what the weather conditions were at the time of the accident, and names of witnesses. Also, railroad companies provide their employees with operating manuals and timetables that may be useful to the investigation.

The railroad company should also be able to provide a train consist, which details any special instructions to the train crew and provides information including: the length and tonnage of the train, the sequence of cars on the train and their car numbers, car maximum speed (for restricted cars), and which cars (if any) contain hazardous materials. Trains operating on a main track should have a working “black box.” This “black box” may have data on train speed, braking applications, and the status of horns and bells.

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