The History of Railroad Crossing Incidents in Arkansas, Part 2

By: Sach Oliver, Trial Attorney/Managing Partner

The Arkansas rail network stretches for approximately 2,700 miles and houses three important systems: Union Pacific, BNSF Railway, and Kansas City Southern Railway. There are 2,460 railway crossings throughout the state of Arkansas. The trains have a variety of functions, the problems come from the fact that only 21% of railway crossings in Arkansas are equipped with flashing lights and gates. The lack of properly equipped crossings puts people at a higher risk of being involved in a railroad crossing accident. Leaving these crossings poorly equipped allows a lot more room for error, thus leading to an increase in railroad crossing accidents.

The fact that most of the incidents, specifically in Arkansas, were caused by railroad equipment striking the highway user, shifts the responsibility from the driver to the railroad company or the state itself. As previously stated, many of the railroad crossings across the state are poorly managed and/or underfunded, which may be the root cause of plenty of these cases. Thankfully, there have not been many incidents that have resulted in casualties, and we hope this is a trend that begins to show more throughout the year.

The Federal Railroad Administration website provides statistics and reports on the nature of these type of accidents and gives insight on the frequency of them throughout each year. 1975 is marked by miscellaneous causes and high damages while 2017 was a year full of incidents caused by human error and the highway users. The amount of injuries and damages done in both years show the fluctuating nature of these incidents. The number of railroad crossing accidents has significantly decreased; however, it is critical to note that there is much work to be done in order to prevent future incidents.

Below is a comparison of the years 1975 and 2017 and some examples of highway railroad crossing accidents in the state of Arkansas from the Federal Railroad Administration database. These are more detailed accounts of the incidents and show a wide range of damages as well as the number of injured people.

Date

State

County

Type of track

Primary Cause

Equipment damage

Track damage

Injured

09.11.1975

AR

Monroe

Main

Other

3,500

0

4

09.18.1975

AR

Crittenden

Main

Other

2,500

0

0

11.17.1975

AR

Ouachita

Main

Other

800

4,500

0

05.03.2017

AR

Mississippi

Main

Highway user deliberately disregarded crossing warning devices

1,000

60,000

0

07.26.2017

AR

Crittenden

Main

Highway user deliberately disregarded crossing warning devices

2,500

11,000

2

08.07.2017

AR

Faulkner

Main

Highway user inattentiveness

12,580

100

0

11.02.2017

AR

Benton

Main

Highway user misjudgment under normal weather and traffic conditions

16,206

0

0

The Federal Railroad Administration has a compiled list of all the railroad crossing incidents in Arkansas.  Below is a simplified version of their chart for Arkansas accidents in 2018 to date.

Date

State

County

City

Highway Name

Highway User

TYPACC

Motorist

Position

Crossing Protection

Injured

01.04.2018

AR

Little River

Ashdown

N. Park Ave

Pickup Truck

Rail Equip struck highway user

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Cross bucks

0

01.10.2018

AR

Ashley

Crossett

Waste fuel

Truck and trail

Highway user struck rail equip

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Watchman

0

01.13.2018

AR

Faulkner

Conway

Bruce Street

Car

Rail equip struck highway user

Other

Stopped on crossing

Gates

0

01.16.2018

AR

Sebastian

Fort smith

Jenny Lind

Car

Rail equip struck highway user

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Cross bucks

0

01.19.2018

AR

Pulaski

North little rock

Pike Ave

Car

Rail equip struck highway user

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Flashing lights

0

01.22.2018

AR

Ashley

Crossett

RD to Plywood Plant

Truck and trail

Rail equip struck highway user

Stopped then proceeded

Moving over crossing

Watchman

0

01.30.218

AR

Ashley

Montrose

82

Pickup Truck

Rail equip struck highway user

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Flashing lights

1 injured/ 1 dead

02.04.2018

AR

Jefferson

Pine Bluff

West Pullen Ave

Oth Mtr V.

Rail equip struck highway user

Went around the gate

Moving over crossing

Gates

0

02.09.2018

AR

Pope

 

E Ash St

Car

Rail equip struck highway user

Other

Stalled or stuck on crossing

Gates

0

02.27.2018

AR

Johnson

 

County Road 83

Oth Mtr V.

Rail equip struck highway user

Did not stop

Moving over crossing

Stop signs

1

03.02.2018

AR

Pulaski

 

Vimy Ridge Road

Pickup truck

Rail equip struck highway user

Other

Stopped on crossing

Gates

0

No scenario is the same and it is quite hard to predict the outcome of such situations. At Bailey & Oliver Law Firm, we have years of experience litigating complex cases and representing clients who have suffered from personal injuries. With our representation, you can rest assured that we will go the extra mile to provide you the legal help you deserve.

Our office is located just West of Exit 81 off I-49 at 3606 W. Southern Hills Blvd., Rogers, Arkansas.  Stop by our office or give us a call at 479-202-5200.  We serve Rogers, Bentonville, Springdale, Lowell, Bella Vista, Centerton, Decatur, Highfill, Cave Springs, Gravette, Pea Ridge, Fayetteville, Huntsville, Berryville, Eureka Springs and all of Arkansas.

Part 1, The History of Railroad Crossing Incidents in Arkansas:  https://www.baileyoliverlawfirm.com/news/2018/aug/01/history-railroad-crossing-incidents-arkansas-part-/