Recent accidents highlight dangers at railroad crossings

A Metro-North Railroad passenger train smolders after hitting a vehicle in Valhalla, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/The Journal News, Frank Becerra Jr)

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Too many drivers take big risks when they go over railroad tracks.

Just this week, there were several incidents at railroad crossings: a disabled train blocked cars from crossing the Vietnam Veterans (Strathmore) Bridge between Agawam and West Springfield. A commuter train collided with a tractor trailer that was on tracks in Braintree, and six people were killed in a commuter train accident in Westchester County, New York.

Warning signals and gates have reduced these types of collisions over the past few decades, but that doesn’t mean drivers always follow the rules.

On Friday, our 22News crew saw one person driving around lowered gates at the crossing near the Vietnam Veterans Bridge.

CSX Railroad spokesman Rob Doolittle told 22News that drivers must always pay attention to warnings and signals. If you see lights flashing or a gate coming down, stop, stay back, and wait it out.

“They should always assume there’s a train coming, and look both ways before they enter a railroad crossing. Freight trains in particular don’t run on any schedule and can run on any track at any time,” Doolittle said.

Depending on the specific line, rail crossings usually warn drivers 30 to 60 seconds before the train rolls through. But railroad crossings are mechanical systems, which means that they have the potential to fail at times.

Comments are closed.