Trucks and trains are among the largest and most powerful vehicles on the roadways. They are extremely large in height and weight and travel at high speeds. While all drivers already have a legal duty to be safe drivers, it is arguable that it is even more important for drivers of these large means of transportation to be especially safe and vigilant, for when they are negligent, extremely serious accidents often occur which result in significant personal injuries.
Even though these vehicle may be large and have the potential to be dangerous, does not mean that they have to be. When operated responsibly, these vehicles are great for business operations or for people to travel long distances. Furthermore, our state has gates and lights at railroad crossings for a reason: to signal that a train is approaching in that very instant and to not cross the track. Signs, lights, and gates are there for our protection and to give us notice. If we follow these warnings and signs and do not act in a negligent manner at crossings, there is no reason that collisions should have to occur. Many of these incidents are entirely avoidable.
A recent accident is an example of when negligence leads to serious accidents and why it is so imperative that drivers are vigilant to the road and safety practices at all times. Recently, a semi-truck ran through a railroad crossing and collided with a train in Southern Illinois, according to an article by the Evansville Courier & Press. The Illinois State Police iterated that the driver, who also hailed from Illinois, failed to stop at a gated railroad crossing on Pyatt Cutler Road near the Perry/Randolph County line and struck the side of the train. The force of the crash ripped a hole in the diesel fuel tank of the train, which resulted in spilling of a significant amount of fuel. The train conductor and train engineer, also both of whom are from Illinois, were injured and required care at a local hospital. The truck driver also suffered injuries and was transported to a local hospital as well. Witnesses elaborated to police about the incident, also according to the same article. They stated that the crossing gates were down and the flashing lights were activated when the truck hit the train. The driver was cited for failure to stop at a railroad crossing, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and for having no insurance on the truck.
Railroad passengers, pedestrians, and drivers should be able to trust that the railroads and surrounding areas are safe to be around. This responsibility to keep railroads and train tracks safe rests not just on train operators but is a shared responsibility with those who share the roads around tracks. There is never a need that is so great as to try to race a train across the tracks. Furthermore, when a gate is lowered at a crossing that means a train is in the vicinity right now. There is never a reason to ignore the law and safety signals and drive around gates. If we all work together to follow the law and act safely, these serious train and truck collisions can be avoided.