The state experienced one of its worst accidents when on October 25th, 1995 a school bus crossing Algonquin Road was struck by a train operated by the Union Pacific Railroad, Co. The accident took the lives of seven students and prompted the Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific to improve the safety of railroad crossings.
According to Operation Lifesaver, nationally there were 2,287 railroad crossing collisions in 2014 that resulted in 849 injuries, and 269 fatalities. These figures represent roughly half of what they were in 1995. Thus, it’s clear that the improvements that are being made are having a positive impact, but that there’s still much more to do.
“The Federal Highway Administration is responsible for ensuring that railroad crossings meet federal standards for safety. It is the railroad companies and local public works departments who maintain the signals and safety devices within these crossings. Working together, these three entities have taken steps to extend grade separations around crossings and improve reliability of both signals and barriers,” commented Chicago auto accident lawyer Christopher J. Johnson.
The number of accidents within Illinois has been dropping steadily since the mid-1990’s. In 1995, the year of the Fox River Grove collision, there were 295 collisions. Last year, there were 134 accidents that resulted in 24 casualties. Thus, the effect of the changes that have been made show they are having a positive impact.
“After Fox River Grove, the state invested over $300 million to improve conditions at 330 grade crossings. This investment has very clearly saved lives. Moreover, police are enforcing traffic safety around railroad crossings with both cameras and the physical presence of officers at particularly notorious crossings. Violators can be fined $250, are subject to license confiscation and a host of penalties the court can levy. As such, it is important for motorists to heed railroad crossings and know that Illinois is taking enforcement seriously in order to save the lives of motorists and pedestrians,” remarked Chicago auto accident lawyer Christopher J. Johnson.