Car accidents involving moving trains are certainly tragic, but they are unfortunately preventable incidents. It is especially concerning given the number of railroad crossings in Pennsylvania without protective gates. Also troubling are crossings where a car may inadvertently become trapped on the tracks. Such was likely the case in a recent accident in Oxnard, California, which resulted in more than two dozen people being injured. This crash was yet another reminder that the thousands of railroad crossings that are unsafe must be replaced. 

However, redesigning these crossings may be easier said than done. According to a recent report, it would cost state and local entities potentially hundreds of millions of dollars do this. With many states cash strapped to begin with (because of other pressing needs) it would be an uphill political battle to get this done. For instance, replacing the Oxnard crossing would cost an estimated $35 million. Imagine the costs of that were multiplied by 20 or 30 to take care of the dangerous intersections across Pennsylvania.

In the meantime, it may be incumbent on drivers and train operators to focus on using reasonable care to avoid accidents. For drivers, this means refraining from alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Alcohol can affect one’s judgment and make a driver believe that he or she can beat a train across a crossing.  The same could be said for train operators, who may notice a disabled car on the tracks soon enough to apply the brakes and reduce the impact of a potential crash.