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NBC affiliate KSN and ABC affiliate KAKE reported that one man was killed this morning when a train struck his vehicle at a railroad crossing in Butler County, near Wichita, KS.

The railroad crossing crash occurred late last night near NE 140th and US Highway 177. The railroad track crossing is located one mile south of Cassoday and was not equipped with a gate to warn motorists of an approaching train. County officials are still investigating the cause of the train crash.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the man killed in this terrible crash. Railroad crossing crashes are a tragic, preventable problem across the country. Railroad companies need to do more to ensure that their railroad tracks and crossing protect approaching motorists. Railroads need to start putting safety first.

Earlier in March, a Baldwin City woman was seriously injured when her vehicle was struck by a train near Wellsville, Kansas.

In February, a Casa Grande, Arizona dentist was killed and another person injured in a violent train crash near Florence, Arizona. The railroad crossing in that crash was not protected by any flashing lights or gates. It may have been difficult or even impossible for the driver to see that a train was coming.

In January, railroad crossing collision killed a woman in Gulfport, Mississippi. News reports indicated that railroad crossing was not properly designed suggested that the driver stopped at the railroad crossing, but could not see the oncoming train and began to cross as her vehicle was struck.

Railroad companies are responsible making sure their train crossings are safe. That means the crossings have proper sight lines and visibility that allow drivers to see approaching trains, that trees and vegetation are cut back, that railroads do not park trains near the crossing (that would confuse drivers), that signals and gates are working properly, and that train crews sound a warning with the train’s horn or whistle as the train is approaching.

These train-vehicle collisions are a tragic reminder of how dangerous railroad crossings can be. In the last 10 years, there have been more than 30,000 railroad crossing accidents and more than 3,600 train accident deaths.

These train accidents can have many causes, including:

  • Failure of the railroad company to install proper warnings, such as lights, alarms (crossing bells) or a functioning crossing gate

  • Defective warnings — inoperable lights, bells or gates

  • Improper sight lines that prevent a vehicle’s driver from seeing an oncoming train until it is too late

  • Failure to properly maintain the crossing — such as allowing overgrown trees, vegetation and other foliage to obstruct or hide an oncoming train

  • Improperly parking a train at or near a crossing — this not only hides an oncoming train from view, but gives motorists a false sense of safety in seeing a parked train at the crossing

  • Failure to sound the train’s horn or whistle at or near the crossing

  • Other negligence that may appear on the train’s data recorder or video recorder

It takes a skilled team of investigators and experts to identify critical information.

Railroad companies need to do more to prevent these tragic collisions that kill. Unfortunately, some railroad companies attempt to cover up their role in causing these tragedies rather than implement safety improvements to prevent them.

In October, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad was hit with a $4 million penalty — on top of a $21.6 million jury verdict — because of its "staggering" pattern of misconduct that included destroying evidence in an attempted cover-up of its role in the deaths of four young people who were killed at one of its railroad crossings.

The Court found that BNSF destroyed some evidence, fabricated other evidence, interfered with the investigation and purposefully lied and advanced misleading facts in order to conceal the truth.

Railroad companies should be held accountable for dangerous railroad crossings that injure and kill. Is there a different set of rules for railroad companies than for everyone else? Railroad companies need to stop putting profits in front safety.

You can learn more about how to protect yourself at railroad crossings by visiting our safety blog or web site.

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  1. Gravatar for Brett Emison

    Z - thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I don't know where you got your information, but as I said in my original post - "County officials are still investigating the cause of the train crash." I still have not seen an official report or statement identifying the cause of the crash.

    Your comment refers to my "agenda". If you mean safety, you are correct. If you mean to imply something different, I must disagree. My only agenda here is safety and decreasing needless injuries and deaths. I have seen far too many instances of railroad crossing injuries and deaths caused by poor railroad crossing design, improper track and vegetation maintenance and failure of train crews to follow laws and regulations regarding speed and warnings. Often times there is little or no warning to a vehicle driver at a railroad crossing.

    Thanks again for reading.

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