Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by lstone19
From the article "...said she was actually between the crossing gates when the train signal went on. "My thought is, 'Oh my God, oh my God, where am I to go?' I see the death coming," she said."

Sadly, considering the number of people I see who stop between the gate and the tracks after the crossing protection activates when they're already past (at least partially) the gate, perhaps better driver education is needed - particularly that you have a minimum of 20 seconds from when the protection is fully activated (meaning gates down) before the train should arrive. There is no need to panic or go ""Oh my God, oh my God, where am I to go?'". Where you go is across. There's plenty of time (20 seconds is far longer than most people realize).

This seems to be particularly prevalent at shallow-angle crossings where there is a lot of room between the gate and the first track. But earlier this month, my Metra engineer had to big-hole it when one of these idiots wasn't clear of our track (dummy saw lights activate, saw train coming on Track 1, stopped well clear of Track 1, then we nearly got him as we came along next on Track 3).
  by justalurker66
Drivers education ... do not enter an intersection unless you have a path out of the intersection. Modern terminology: Don't block the box.

People have become accustomed to pulling into an intersection and stopping then waiting for traffic to clear so they can clear the intersection. I have seen traffic backed up beyond an intersection where there is physically no room for a vehicle to leave the intersection ... but the next car pulls in to the intersection and blocks the box. When the light changes they have no place to go and they block cross traffic.

On street intersections it is an annoyance ... and the cross traffic usually notices and other than increasing road rage it doesn't normally cause a collision. But when someone blocks the box at a railroad crossing a train isn't going to be able to stop. The bad habit of pulling into the intersection becomes more dangerous or fatal when a driver stops on railroad tracks.

And while 20 seconds is "a long time" finding a place to go may take 21 ... or some creative thinking (such as driving off the crossing into opposing traffic). The bad habit learned at street intersections is "nobody is going to hit me" and there is no 20 second limit to clear the box. That doesn't apply at a railroad crossing.

Do not enter an intersection unless you can clear an intersection. Don't block the box.