Rail/Highway Grade Crossing Accidents

Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) Cases

Past Cases

Video and Computer-Generated Animation


Skillset - Robert W. Halstead

IronWood Technologies, Inc.

Rail/Highway Grade Crossing Accidents

IWT can handle almost every aspect of a typical Rail/Highway Grade Crossing (RHGC) accident investigation at both passive and active crossings, including:

Passive Crossings (those without flashers or gates):

  • Analysis of signage, pavement markings, sight distance around fixed obstructions (vegetation, buildings, standing rail cars, etc.)

  • Excessive profile "humped" crossings

  • Determination of minimum acceptable audible (i.e. - locomotive horn) warning time

  • Human Factors issues associated with motorists approaching passive RHGC

  • Preparation of scale diagram of crossing for use at trial

Active Crossings (those with flashers or flashers and gates):

  • Detailed field examination of circuitry associated with the active warning devices and analysis of minimum required warning time

  • Field testing of active warning devices in accordance with Federal requirements 49 CFR Part 234 and industry-standard practice

  • Full-size reconstruction of warning devices for test purposes at locations where the crossing warning devices have been substantially modified or removed since the accident

  • Determination of the training and qualification level of railroad signal maintenance personnel

  • Evaluation of traffic signal preemption design

  • Human Factors issues associated with motorists approaching active RHGC

  • Preparation of scale diagram of crossing for use at trial

  • Time/Distance analysis - correlation of locomotive and crossing event recorder data

  • Analysis of train crew operating rules compliance

  • Demonstration of active warning device design and maintenance issues in a courtroom via video, computer-generated animation or through the use of full-size crossing signal components

In cases in which the crossing warning devices have been either substantially modified or removed since the accident, IWT can reconstruct the visual aspects of the crossing for full-scale flasher visibility tests.  In the case above, IWT built a duplicate of the original crossing (left) in an adjacent parking lot (right).  The duplicate flashers were positioned according to a professional surveyor at the exact height, separation, and geographic orientation as the original.  Tests were then conducted at the same time of day as the accident to determine whether the flashers would likely have been visible to the approaching motorist given the existing sun glare.


IWT's portable FDU (Flasher Demonstration Unit) can be equipped with any combination of flasher heads (including the latest LED flasher heads), roundels, and hoods.  In addition to serving as useful tool in conducting flasher visibility studies,  it allows IWT to demonstrate specific flasher design and maintenance techniques to juries.



IronWood Technologies, Inc.

300 Sedgwick Drive

Syracuse, NY USA  13203-1315

(315) 424-2500



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