When a railroad crossing accident occurs, the railroad officials know about it immediately and immediately commence an intense investigation to prove that the accident was not their fault – even if it was. Law enforcement officials such as the highway patrol and police officers are also called to scene to conduct a very limited investigation. Generally, the extent of the investigation by law enforcement officials includes hardly more than talking to those operating the train, talking with the driver and occupants of the passenger vehicle if they are able, talking with any eye witnesses who may remain at the scene and measuring the distance that the train traveled beyond the intersection until it came to a stop.
While most all modern trains are equipped with a video camera on the front of the locomotive which will capture the entire accident, the law enforcement officials will not view that evidence nor the data recorded by the on-board computer which will provide the speed of the train, the throttle position, when the brakes were applied, when the whistle was sounded and other information vital to a determination as to whether or not those operating the train were negligent and causing or allowing the collision to occur. Likewise, the local law enforcement officials generally conduct no investigation to determine whether or not the railroad right-of-way was free of obstruction, the sight distance available to the motorist or whether the whistle post was in place 80 rods ahead of the crossing to alert the operator of the train to sound the whistle as required by statute.