Railroad Crossings Rule Aims to Reduce Risk of Maine Trucking Accidents

A new federal rule meant to help to reduce the number of accidents at railroad crossings will have some unintended consequences for truck drivers, says the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
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According to Land Line, officials with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)sare set to issue a final rule that prohibits a truck hauling hazardous and dangerous materials from driving “onto a highway-rail grade crossing without having sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.”

Our Bangor accident lawyers understand that there are close to 20,000 grade crossings in the U. . where the clearance space after a railroad crossing is less than 100 feet and sometimes can be even less than the length of a tractor-trailer. The concern here is that truckers won’t be able to cross the road legally at any of these areas. In some cases, truckers say that it’s virtually impossible to get across the railroad tracks without violating the traffic control device that’s located on the other side.

While officials are not backing down from this rule, they’re trying to offer help. Officials with both the PHMSA and the FMCSA are asking truckers to use the new Rail Crossing Locator app that allows them to look over railroad crossing locations and get specific details about virtually every crossing.

The truth of the matter here is that railroad crossings are dangerous, for both truck and car drivers. What’s important to remember trying to outrace a train at a railroad crossing is a lose/lose proposition.

Gates and lights help both motor vehicle and train traffic to coexist safely. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of crossings across the country without these safety features. Even when you’re not “on” the tracks, it’s important that you remember that trains can overhang on the tracks about three feet in both directions, making it dangerous for travelers in the area who may think they’re not in the way.

In the event of an accident risk, it can take a while for the train to stop — being unable to avoid the accident. Once the driver of the train hits the brakes, the train will still travel hundreds of feet before air pressure is applied to the brakes on all the cars of a train and they fully take hold — and eventually bring the train to a stop.

In the last 10 years, there have been more than 30,000 railroad crossing collisions resulting in more than 3,600 deaths.

Most importantly, you should always assume that there is a train on every track at all times, even tracks that are rarely used. If there is a stop sign at the crossing, stop! If there is a yield sign or electronic signals, slow and make sure that no trains are approaching, according to Maine Operation Lifesaver. It’s a move that could wind up saving lives.

Contact the experienced injury lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates if you or your child has been injured in an accident. Call 1-800-804-2004 for a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your case.

More Blog Entries:

Truck Accident at Maine Railroad Cross a Reminder of Risks, Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, October 1, 2013

Drowsy Driving Causes Teen Rollover Accident on Snows Cove, Maine Injury Lawyer Blog, September 20, 2013