Railroad lights

Today, I went back to the place where I unintentionally hit down and destroyed a railroad gate which put 10 instant points on my driving license, one point shy of having my driver taken away from me, in 2017 or 2018.

I was curious to see how well the lights would operate this time around and so I was behind a single car when I approached the railroad gate observing like a hawk. I wanted to video record this as well but feared a police officer might be close by and catch me and write me up for holding a cell phone while driving.

Upon arriving at the gate, there were no flashing lights and so the car in front of me continued on to drive towards the track. Then suddenly, the red flashing light came on and flashed about 2-3 times before the gate started coming down. The car in front of me violently stopped his car and was about 5 feet away from the track.

You already know what I was thinking.

What the hell ? That’s all the time we are given to prepare for a train ? I’m 100% sure had it been me in front, I would hit the gate down.

The only reason the car in front stopped fast enough was because the driver “ probably “ can hear.

Is there a way I can file a lawsuit or bring this issue to the city ?

This isn’t LegalTalk, it is CarTalk. Not the place to answer this.

Since the red lights flashed 2-3 times, why would you think deafness has any bearing on this?

If you decide to sue, could you accept the state taking away your drivers license if they determine the problem is you, not the signal?

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I would gladly accept my license being taken away in a case like this. This puts motorists at extreme risk.

When looking up this particular railroad, I can see multiple accidents have occurred there.

There is almost certainly a written code on this issue. How to find it, no idea. There are federal, state, county, city, and local jurisdiction codes, which one depends on the issue, so it may take some time to find it. Folks in this area contesting red light tickets have been successful by comparing the timing of the transitions to what is required by the code. As for why the timing may not be to code, there are sometimes conflicts of interest. For example area business owners want it easier/quicker for customers to enter and leave their parking lots, etc. There’s one red light signal in my area I have to deal with frequently as a bicycle rider. It turns green only for about 3 seconds, then turns yellow. Even if I start robustly peddling immediately after it turns green, by the time I’m 3/4 through the intersection it is already red. This is actually an improvement. Before I’d only be 1/2 way through intersection at red. I requested the city involved lengthen the timing , and they did, by maybe 1.5 seconds … lol …

Those gates are usually designed to break-away without causing significant damage to the car or the rest of the gate. But if a driver breaks through, then it leaves the intersection less well protected, probably the reason for the severity of the fine. One of the callers on Best of Car Talk found herself in a cash-only lane w/no cash so she ran through a similar gate at a toll-both for a bridge, and called the brothers to ask if she should send in the toll payment by mail … lol .


That’s awesome, George.

It’s good that you see a problem and voice your concern for improvement.

This very same railroad gate hit my female cousin’s family van when she drove from Virginia to NY to visit us. She has never seen a gate come down as soon as the lights begin flashing.

What bothers me now is why aren’t people protesting the gate ? There are already multiple accidents reported there.

A hearing person can hear the train approaching.

2 to 3 flashes wouldn’t tell drivers to stop instantly. And those lights flash pretty fast.

The train passed by right after the gate completely came down.

With closed windows, a/c, and sound systems, nobody should depend on hearing a train to know to stop


I believe as soon as the lights flash, the gate will come down. There is a requirement though for the lights to come on when the train is still a little bit away. I don’t know what that is though.

I like the reminder sign to not stop on the tracks. Like a mind your head sign. Sheesh.

If that’s how it works, then that’s something new I just learned.

Where I live, I don’t ever come into contact with railroads. I don’t take the train. The very few times I ever see railroads the lights would flash a little while before the gate start to come down. This makes sense because people need to prepare to stop.

Imagine if you were about to cross the track and the lights come on and the gate coming down, this would put you in a fast thinking mode. You’ll have to speed up because you can’t stop on the track. And if you get caught speeding up, this would result in a ticket for attempting to get around the gate while it is on its way down.

There used to be a major RR crossing in my area until about 10 years ago. Crossing remains, but no more trains. IIRC the lights would flash for a considerable time before the gate would come down. But it was 10 years ago, so might not be recalling correctly. I’d usually encounter that situation when walking the dog, and my main focus had to be on preventing the dog from attacking the train … lol …

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Have you gone down to the police station for that area and filed a detailed complaint, telling a cop on the street or a Judge probably not going to get you anywhere, and or talked to the RxR owners as they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of highway-railroad grade crossing warning device equipment for NY…

I’m no law expert by any means, but I would think that a lawsuit could only come after the company has heard the complaint and been given the proper amount of time for correction and flat out refused to correct the issue if it is out of spec or malfunctioning…

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Only if their windows are down.

The car DID stop so those lights did their job. I would pay more attention to flashing lights than sound.


Agreed, the flashing lights ARE the 1st warning that a train is coming… Not all RxR crossings have gates and are 100% dependent on the flashing lights and common sense…

Clueless, it would benefit you to slow down at all RxR crossings no matter what and or stop at all RxR crossings, most if not all Multi passenger Vans/Buses stop at all RxR crossings as well as vehicles carrying hazardous waste or anything that can go boom all stop at all RxR crossings in my area, maybe TN…

And never count on the vehicle in front of you to alert you to a train, they could be trying to beat the train and you would not… remember, lots of stupid drivers out there…

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I disagreed.

The lights are to prepare motorists to stop 15 feet away from the track comfortably. If a driver has to violently stop his car for a train and be 5 feet away from the track, then the lights aren’t doing their job correctly :wink:


Was the driver doing the exact speed limit?? The faster the speed, the shorter the time to stop… What was the reaction time of the driver??

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I was behind the driver and we were exiting a park. I would estimate our MPH to be 5mph or less.

He was simply moving up towards the track to get across when the light suddenly came on with gate coming down.

Then file a complaint to the proper authority’s, I posted a link already… Nothing anyone here can do about it… Sorry…

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After the train passed and the gate went back up, I circled around looking for a cop as I wanted them to watch while I was there. But no cop was in sight :pensive:

I’m never going back to that park, period. If I can find someone to complain to the city for me, I’ll definitely do that. I’m just never going to that spot again.

I guess you were following way too closely, if you couldn’t stop from “5 mph or less”. Doesn’t read like a signal problem to me.