News story on railroad crossing, NBC5

“Lack of Safety at Railroad Crossings”

In an investigative report, Stan reveals the railroad industry’s lack of economic incentives in preventing fatality accidents.


Stan Smith: Obviously, not every accident is the railroad’s fault. What we have however is the railroad, the government, not working together to figure out how to protect the consumer.

Renee Ferguson: Economist Dr. Stan Smith says, after years of studying the railroad industry, his research shows money is the reason railroads don’t want to pay for lights and gates.

Smith: They don’t have any economic incentive to do so.

Ferguson: He bases his conclusions on an analysis of federal data and research.

Smith: It is cheaper for the railroad to pay the cost of litigation than it is to prevent railroad fatality and non-fatality accidents.

Ferguson: We showed Dr. Smith court documents obtained by Unit Five. Documents in which attorneys who represent the rail industry say that death and injury claims, “… involve an annual industry-wide total payout of some $100 million dollars… “. Based on our information and his knowledge of rail cases, Dr. Smith says about half of that payout is for deaths and injuries at crossings without gates and lights.

Smith: We estimate that that result in litigation-related costs of about $50 million a year.

Ferguson: Dr. Smith says that’s compares to one billion dollars the railroad industry would have to pay to install and maintain lights and gates at even half of the nation’s unmarked crossings.

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