Posted Feb 23, 2011 @ 01:31 PM
Railroad crossing safety a priority
Hinsdale, IL —
Hinsdale was certainly not alone among western suburban communities in having to deal with an accident involving a train and a vehicle during the recent snowstorm.
The Hinsdale accident occurred at the Garfield Street railroad crossing Feb. 3. A driver traveling west on Chicago Avenue made a right turn onto Garfield Street and became stuck on the tracks because of the wet conditions. The driver exited the car before it was hit by a coal train.
Similar incidents were reported that week in Berwyn, Downers Grove and Elmhurst. This was the third time in three years that winter conditions caused a collision between a car and a train in Hinsdale.
Thankfully, none of these accidents resulted in any injuries. But in looking at the issue of railroad safety in the village, the Suburban Life came across a tragedy waiting to happen.
Police Chief Brad Bloom said the village issued 92 citations for violating railroad safety laws in 2010. This is the highest number of citations issued since the village began tracking such statistics in 2007.
Western suburban towns have become more vigilant since 2006 in educating people on the need for observing railroad safety and enforcing laws designed to keep them from being injured. That year, 14-year-old Kristen Bowen from Lombard was killed while crossing the railroad tracks as a shortcut in Villa Park.
Kristen was killed near North Terrace Park. The death of the Willowbrook High School student has led family and friends to advocate for increased fencing near parks and schools.
Pedestrians in some towns have expressed shock when they received tickets from the police for crossing tracks when the railroad lights were activated. Perhaps they believed only drivers are subject to such fines, but they are mistaken.
Everyone who crosses railroad tracks must take seriously the potential hazard of doing so when a train is approaching. Hinsdale officials must maintain the effort to keep people safe.