Get Accident Predictions for Rail Crossings Near You

Federal Railroad Administration’s Web Accident Prediction System puts data at your fingertips

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Safety Analysis maintains a “Web Accident Prediction System,” which calculates the probability of a collision, using past accidents and current traffic statistics, including the number of tracks, safety systems like gates and flashing lights, and the speed of trains passing by. Stefan Holt reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 29, 2013)

    Illinois has the second-largest train system in the country – more than 40,000 cars traveling every day over 7,400 miles of tracks.

    How likely is there to be some sort of accident at any given railroad crossing? Federal authorities have a way to find out: 

    • Visit the the Federal Railroad Administration’s Web Accident Prediction System (WBAPS)
    • Select a state. You can search an entire state, or a specific county or city. For example, you can choose to look just at the railroad crossings in Riverdale, or Elmhurst, or Naperville or you can look at all of DuPage County -- or you can even look at a group of cities, counties, or states.
    • Next, select the number of records you would like to see – the top fifty most likely crossings for an accident, for example – or the top hundred -- or choose “All”.
    • Then, under "Reports," choose the "Prediction Report." You can also add additional information – such as a list of past accidents at each site. It’s very helpful to include the cover sheet, which spells out the criteria and procedures by which these crossings are ranked.
    • Finally, hit the "Generate Report" button at the bottom. This will prompt you to open or download a .PDF document with the information you’ve requested.

    The result is a ranking of all the railroad grade crossings in your chosen area, starting with the crossing that has the highest “collision prediction value.”

    It’s important to note that even the top-ranked crossings have a very low accident prediction value. Most crossings are safe most all of the time. These rankings are purely relative, but they do give you a sense of which crossings the FRA may be giving attention.

    For example, if you search railroad crossings in Joliet, you’ll find that the crossing considered most likely to have an accident in the next 12 months is an Illinois Central Railroad crossing on Ohio Street, and that it has seen two collisions since 2008.

    If you want to find out exactly where it is, copy the crossing number -- in this case 289759X -- and paste it into a search tool on the Illinois Commerce Commission website, which maps out all railroad crossings in Illinois.

    You’ll see that this crossing is on Ohio Street between Scott and State Streets, near several churches and a residential neighborhood, a few blocks east of the Des Plaines River.

    Top 25 Great-Chicago Railroad Crossings Most Likely To Have An Accident:


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