There are various ways to categorize different accidents involving railroad workers. By categorizing, it makes it easier to see which types of accidents pose the greatest risk to workers. Furthermore, it can help with developing stronger safety standards and helping to keep workers as safe as possible in Illinois.
The Federal Railroad Administration maintains figures about railroad worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities while on the job. It also categorizes and defines each type of accident. One of those categories is a highway-rail grade crossing incident.
A highway-rail grade crossing incident, as the name suggests, is any accident that occurs at a railroad crossing. It usually involves hitting a vehicle, equipment or some other obstacle from the highway that should not be on the tracks.
For the FRA to categorize an accident as a highway-rail grade crossing incident, it must meet three conditions:
- It must happen at a designated crossing.
- It must involve someone or something using the highway at the time of the incident.
- It must also involve a train or other on-track equipment.
These conditions can make it confusing as to whether an accident falls under this category. For example, some accidents are straightforward. If there is an auto accident at a crossing that does not involve a train, it is not a highway-rail grade crossing incident because it does not involve rail equipment. However, a vehicle sitting unoccupied on a track that a train strikes does fall into this category because it does involve a highway vehicle and a train and is at a crossing. The designated crossing condition will mean that some incidents involving a train and vehicle or person will not fall in this category.
In any case, a highway-rail grade crossing incident is a serious matter. It puts many lives at risk and opens everyone up to the possibility of a fatality or serious injury.