According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, for a vehicle approaching a crossing, the driver must be able to see a train far enough along the tracks to have time to react to its presence and stop the highway vehicle before the crossing. The quadrant sight distance or "sight triangle" is formed by the distance along the roadway, the distance along the railroad tracks, and the distance along an imaginary line from the train to the highway vehicle.

The speed of the train and speed of the vehicle also determine sight line requirements...(SEE CHART BELOW)


  • Take pictures from both directions from where the driver would be sitting if stopped at the stop bar. This is 9 feet behind the stop bar which is usually 15 feet from the nearest rail. If there is no stop bar, use 24 feet. Make sure the pictures are at eye level of the driver, not standing up.

  • Document make, model, and year of vehicle. Determine the distance (as best you can) where the train engine light would first be visible. Engine light is 16 feet above the tracks.
  • Determine location (as best you can) were the whole train engine would be visible from the driver's seat.
  • Take pictures of the crossing surface.
  • If a paved road, there should be pavement markings on the road. Take pictures of markings or document their absence.
  • Take pictures of any informational signs (RXR) and/or crossbuck signs and the distance to signs.
  • Determine obstructions to motorists' view. Measure distance to obstructions from the road and also from the center of the tracks. Take pictures.
  • Determine if (railroad, local highway authority, other) has cut brush, trees, and vegetation since accident. If vegetation has been removed, this totally changes the condition of the crossing. Take pictures to document removal.
  • -AND-

    • If the crossing is equipped with lights only or gates and lights, take close-up pictures of warning devices. Also take pictures from medium distance and from informational sign (RXR, crossbuck).
    • If train passes through crossing, measure the warning time (minimum federally mandated warning time is 20 seconds) from crossing activation to train at edge of crossing.


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